Copyright 1994 - 2019 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
August 10, 2000
Last Updated :
March 4, 2012
NOTE: This article or series has not been updated recently. As such, it may possibly contain some outdated information, and/or ideas and beliefs which I no longer embrace, or which have changed to some degree.
Other Gimmicks Of Modern Churches, All Noise But No Real Substance, Spiritually-Dead Churches, Right On The Outside But Wrong On The Inside, America's Spiritual Condition, Ostracized For Preaching God's Truth, America's Coming Judgment, Separated From The World, God Will Provide Our Needs, Principles Of Answered Prayer, Murmuring Israelites Seek First The Kingdom, Narrow Path, Do You Have An Ear?
In addition to hiring famous preachers to awe their members, some churches resort to other gimmicks in order to retain their membership, such as having cheerleaders, rock bands, special outings, bake sales, bingo games, music concerts, video presentations, etc.; not to mention all of the weird manifestations which have been occurring in recent years. It has become like a wild spiritual circus in some churches. In spite of all of these things, from everything I have read in recent years, it seems that people still continue to leave the churches in very large numbers. Not only that, but what I personally find alarming is the fact that in the so-called "Christian" United States of America, they are turning to Islam, to Wicca, to New Age thought, and to an assortment of other pagan belief systems in increasing numbers. Now, if Christianity has so much to offer, why is this happening?
While it would be easy to attribute this decline in church attendance to the prophesied apostasy, or falling away, of the Endtime, I believe that it can also be attributed to another factor; and that is this: A lot of people are still spiritually hungry, but their spiritual needs are simply not being met in the churches, so they are going elsewhere; but sadly, they are turning to the wrong things. There is a lot of noise, a lot of show, and a lot of glitz in the churches, but very little true spiritual substance. As I point out in several other articles, such as in "Where Are the First Century Churches?" and "Churchianity or Christianity: Which Do You Practice?", some churches have divorced themselves from the truth of God's Word; and thus, just like the church of Laodicea, while they appear to be alive and well on the surface, they are in fact spiritually dead.
Jesus described the religious system of the Scribes and the Pharisees in the very same way. Long before He had ever been born, they had already become spiritually dead, due to their lust for worldly power and wealth, and their desire to do things their own way, instead of God's way:
"Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness."
Matthew 23:27, KJV
Some churches today have likewise foolishly surrendered the true spiritual riches, in order to adopt the false standards of the world; primary of which are power, popularity and wealth. They are just like the rich man who wanted to build bigger barns, while within he was spiritually empty. Just as Jesus said back then, they are spiritually dead; they are the blind leading the blind. Furthermore, just as the Jewish leaders of old killed their true Prophets in order to try to silence the Voice of the Lord, today, certain sectors of organized religion react in a similar manner by ridiculing and discrediting anyone who tries to expose their sins as well.
Please ponder the following thought for a moment. At the beginning of the First Century, the Sanhedrin -- that is, the Jewish council of Seventy Elders plus the High Priest -- was the authoritative religious voice of the day. As I mentioned a moment ago, on the outside, everything seemed right. While it is true that Palestine was under Roman oppression, the Jewish religious system was still intact, and permitted to be practiced; and the common Israelite accepted the word of the Elders as coming from God Himself. Yet, in spite of this seemingly "right" outward appearance, God chose to send John the Baptist with a strong message of repentance, in order to prepare the hearts of the people for the Lord's arrival. So while the crafty Jewish Elders were saying that everything was fine, God's true Prophet, and later even Jesus Himself, were saying "Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!". Why repent if nothing was wrong?
Today in so-called "Christian" America, a similar situation exists. Once again, everything seems right on the surface. We have churches, denominations, preachers, revivals, Bible versions, and Christian radio and TV programs galore; and every weekend, millions of people across America faithfully attend Saturday or Sunday church services; yet as back then, something is terribly wrong. Most churches certainly won't admit that anything is wrong. Your average preacher is too busy talking about God's "wonderful financial blessings", or about an upcoming building project, or about the so-called "Second Pentecost" and the coming revival in which God is going to do "wonderful things". Anyone who does not follow this party line, or who dares to question the voice of these false prophets, is immediately silenced and ostracized. In worse-case scenarios, he may even be branded as a dangerous cult leader, or as a brainwashed cult follower, or as one who is mentally and emotionally deranged.
"Oh no!", they say. "You are wrong! America is beautiful! America is wonderful! America is the most God-fearing nation upon this Earth! We are His children! He won't allow any of those things to happen to us! Go away, you false prophet! God bless America!" Well, the Jews made the Old Testament Prophets "go away"; and they made John the Baptist "go away"; and they even made Jesus "go away"; but eventually, God made them "go away" in 70 A.D., when Jerusalem was invaded, and their sacred Temple utterly destroyed by the Romans! In similar manner, these false prophets of modern churchianity are so wrapped up in their patriotism, and in their materialism, that they don't have a clue as to what is about to happen. They can't even see that God's mighty Hand of Judgment is about to fall; and it will indeed fall one of these days soon unless there is a great deal of repentance! If God loves America, and I believe that He does, then He must punish her for her many iniquities which have reached unto Heaven! As we read in the Book of Proverbs:
"Open rebuke is better than secret love."
Proverbs 27:5, KJV
So the warning is clear. As servants of the Lord, we must each remember that we are called to center our lives around the True Standard of God's Word, and NOT around the false standards of the world. We must make certain that we are seeking first His Kingdom, and not the false, materialistic kingdom of Satan and of the world, which will never truly satisfy, and which only offers death, and not life. We must always remember that while we are currently in the world, we are not a part of it; and that we should only interface with it, as much as may be necessary, in order to accomplish the task which the Lord has given each of us to do. Please consider the following verses:
"If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
John 15:19, KJV
"And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away."
1 Corinthians 7:31, KJV
"Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,"
2 Corinthians 6:17, KJV
"That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;"
Philippians 2:15, KJV
"No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier."
2 Timothy 2:4, KJV
"Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
James 4:4, KJV
From personal experience, I can tell you that if you have been called to serve the Lord in some capacity, and if you are truly seeking first His Kingdom by denying yourself, in order to unselfishly meet the spiritual needs of others, He will provide for you in some way; He will take care of you. I cannot say exactly how He will do it, but He will do it, because He has promised to; and it will amaze you when you begin to see the Lord's Hand begin to work. As I mention in the series "The Fruit of the Womb", as children of the King, we are each a part of God's holy Household; we are His sons and daughters. Surely, the Creator of the universe is more than able, and willing, to provide our needs when we are pleasing in His sight.
The Lord is not one to say, "This is the way; walk ye in it", and then not provide for His children along that way. Didn't He drop Manna from the sky, and send flocks of quail, and make water spring forth from a dry rock for the children of Israel? It is sometimes through His provision, that we know that we are in His Will. Of course, it is possible that the Lord may test our faith first, in order to see if we are still willing to believe and obey, even when things seem contrary to what we expect; however, if there is one thing of which I am certain, it is that we are not to worry about the future, because He will provide if we are pleasing Him. Please consider these wonderful promises found in both the Old and New Testaments:
"Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:"
Isaiah 59:1, KJV
"Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart . . . I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread."
Psalm 37:4, 25, KJV
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
Malachi 3:10, KJV
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."
Matthew 6:33-34, KJV
"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened . . . If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"
Matthew 7:7-8, 11, KJV
"And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."
Matthew 21:22, KJV
"Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows."
Luke 12:6-7, KJV
"And he said unto his disciples, Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is to day in the field, and to morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you."
Luke 12:22-31, KJV
"He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?"
Romans 8:32, KJV
"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19, KJV
"And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him."
1 John 5:14-15, KJV
Before concluding this article, allow me clarify that our Heavenly Father promises to provide all of our needs; but this does not necessarily mean that He will provide every- thing that we ask for. Some people pray, and then become disappointed when their request doesn't materialize. They erroneously think that God has either not heard them, or else that He has failed to answer them, or that He may even be mad at them, when this may not be the case whatsoever. Perhaps He really did answer, but not in the way in which they expected. The Lord usually replies with "Yes", "No" or "Wait". Notice that in the last verses above, John very specifically writes "if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us".
In other words, what we need, and what we want, may not be the same thing. God will surely provide what we really need, but He may not provide what we simply want, because it may not be according to His Will. Perhaps it is something which may end up being harmful to us, either in a physical or a spiritual sense, so the Lord refuses to allow us to have it; or maybe it is something that we are simply lusting after. As James also wrote:
"Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts."
James 4:3, KJV
As I explain in other articles, a primary example of this, is the Israelites whom the Lord freed from Egyptian slavery. Following the initial excitement of their liberation, they became one rebellious, moaning, groaning, complaining group of people. They complained about their loss of comforts in the land of Goshen. They complained about how hot it was. They complained that they didn't have a lot of food to eat. They complained that water was scarce. They complained that Moses wasn't a very good leader; and on and on they went. Consider the following verses:
"And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger . . . And Moses said, This shall be, when the LORD shall give you in the evening flesh to eat, and in the morning bread to the full; for that the LORD heareth your murmurings which ye murmur against him: and what are we? your murmurings are not against us, but against the LORD."
Exodus 16:3, 8, KJV
"And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink. Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD? And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?"
Exodus 17:1-3, KJV
The Lord finally got tired of their constant complaining, and decided that it was time to teach them a lesson. While we are told that He provided Manna for them for forty years, and quail in abundance, and water from the rock, we are also told in Psalm 106 that He sent leanness to their souls. This Psalm is an excellent summary of what the Lord had to deal with regarding those stubborn Jews. As I explain in such articles as "The Fruits of Disobedience", He was forced to punish them over and over again due to their lack of faith, their constant complaints, their stubbornness, and their backslidden condition. Part of their initial punishment was that they were forced to spend forty years wandering in the wilderness until the older complaining generation had died off; and in the New Testament, the Apostle Paul tells us that we are supposed to learn from their poor example, lest in our pride we think that we are any better than them:
"Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
1 Corinthians 10:1-12, KJV
So as I explained in part one, we must learn to be thankful and content with whatever God chooses to give us; even if His answer is "No" sometimes. We must simply trust that He knows what is truly best for us; and what is usually best for us, is giving us just what we need, and no more than that. As I noted earlier, when we have too much, it serves as a distraction in our lives. We become too comfortable, too self-confident, we take too much for granted, and we begin to lose our fear of the Lord. We don't appreciate the things He has done for us and given us, and we soon drift away from Him.
So what about you? Are you truly seeking first the Kingdom of God in your life, or are you following the deceptive ways of the world? As Jesus said, we cannot do both; we cannot serve two masters; we cannot serve God and mammon; that is to say, material gain. It must be one or the other; our heart must not be divided; our eye must be single. As King Solomon wrote twice in the Book of Proverbs:
"There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death."
Proverbs 14:12, KJV
Jesus made similar statements in the New Testament when He cautioned us with the following:
"Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."
Matthew 7:13-14, KJV
"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:"
John 10:27, KJV
Are you one who is listening to and following the voice of the Great Shepherd? Are you following His path to Eternal Life? I certainly hope so. I pray that this article has been a blessing in your life.