James 5:1-6 ESV
“Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you.”
In America, today’s modern market-driven “churches” are just like what is described here in this passage of Scripture. For they are all about meeting the “felt needs” of the people of this world. For they are marketing “the church” to the world, and so they have altered the meaning of “church” and how to conduct the gatherings of the church and the message of the gospel of salvation – all with a focus on drawing in large crowds from the world.
And so preachers have turned into entertainers who tell people what their itching ears want to hear. Although they are most likely aware that over half of their congregants, including themselves (some of them), are living in spiritual adultery and/or in deliberate and habitual sin, especially sexual sin – and so the majority of the congregants sit there in their seats intoxicated to sin and to self-indulgence and to having their feelings satisfied – still they tell them what makes them feel good, not what they need to hear.
The majority of the people are not there because they want to hear truth. They are there because they are in a social club and there are activities for them and for their children and because the pastor is entertaining and/or the band is super cool and the musicians sing and play really well, etc. Or they are there because it is culturally and socially acceptable to attend a “church” service once a week and to do “good deeds.”
And they like going there because no one is judging them, and no one is saying anything to offend them, but people are accepting them just as they are, living in sin, while many of them profess faith in Jesus and salvation from sin and the hope of heaven when they die. And so the world feels at home and comfortable in the gatherings of what is called “church.” But is that the biblical model of church? No! It is not!!
Cheap Grace vs. True Grace
But let me continue… And so the market-driven “churches” of today are feeding the people what they want to hear and what makes them feel good about themselves, even in their sin. And they are mostly not giving out the truth of the gospel which teaches that we must die with Christ to sin and live to Christ and to his righteousness, and that we must submit to Christ as Lord and surrender our lives to him and forsake our sins to follow Jesus in obedience to his commands (New Covenant).
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 6:35-58; Jn 15:1-11; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Pet 2:24; 1 Co 6:19-20; 2 Co 5:15,21; Tit 2:11-14; Jas 1:22-25; 1 Jn 1:5-9; Rom 12:1-2; Eph 2:8-10; Heb 12:1-2; Jn 6:44; 2 Pet 1:1; 1 Co 15:58; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:21-23; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13]
Instead, what most of them are teaching is that we can “believe” (not defined) in Jesus, be forgiven our sins, and be guaranteed heaven when we die regardless of how we live our lives on this earth. So, what they are really handing them are cups of “Kool-Aid” to drink (see story about Jim Jones and his followers 11/18/1978). For the drink they are offering is not the cup Jesus is offering, for his cup involves death but ends in life (John 6:35-58; Mark 10:35-40), and theirs involves self-life which ends in death.
And they are giving them the promises of God from the Scriptures but without the conditions (stipulations) for those promises to be applied to them and to be fulfilled in their lives. For they want the resurrection without the cross. They want salvation from sin without first dying with Christ to sin and being raised with Christ to walk in newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness (Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24).
Charlatans who Charm the People
And the pastors are largely entertaining the people, making them laugh, telling them jokes, even jokes which mock the Scriptures and God, putting on plays with large stage productions. And they are diluting the gospel message to where it barely resembles the true gospel at all, except for the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. And they are coddling the people in their sin rather than speaking out against the sin and calling them to genuine repentance and changed lives which honor Christ as Lord.
And so they lie to the people and they make up stories from their own minds, or from the minds of those humans they are following, and they connivingly and skillfully blend lies and truth together in order to deceive and in order to turn people away from genuine faith in Jesus Christ. And they don’t love the church as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her because it isn’t about that to them. It is a business and it is about attracting people to their places of business.
And so we have “churches” filled with people professing faith in Jesus Christ who are still living in deliberate and habitual sin against God because they believe they have permission to do so, although they should know better (see Romans 1). Many of them are addicted to sexual deviant behaviors, including the pastors, and many are liars and thieves and adulterers and those who manipulate others and use others for their own advantage. And some of them are the spiritual leaders of these “churches.”
True Church vs. False Church
Now, let me state here that the church is not a building. It is not a business of man. It is not a human run and human-based organization. It is not to be marketed to the people of the world. It is not a corporation under the state and it is not an entity under the headship of church denominations, although humans have turned the church into that. The church is the collection of people who love God and who have died and are dying daily to sin and to self and who are walking in holiness in obedience to God by faith in Christ.
It is not a location where we invite the people of the world and so we build the gatherings of the church around what the world is craving. It is to be the body of Christ gathering together for mutual encouragement and strengthening in our walks of holiness and godliness in faith in Jesus Christ so that we can go out into the world with the gospel and so people can believe in Jesus and then they become part of the church if their faith is genuine to where they leave their sins to follow Jesus in obedience.
But sadly, not much of what is called “church” here in America today is the true church, the body of Christ, but it is a conglomerate of people from the world and from among those professing faith in Jesus Christ who gather together weekly for all sorts of reasons, most of which do not include true biblical faith and Christianity and walks of faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord. And so many are opposed to those who are of true faith, especially if they are teaching (preaching, sharing) the truth of the gospel in opposition to the lies.
So, the harvesters in God’s spiritual field who are sowing the truth and not the lies are crying out to God regarding the condition of much of what is called “church” today and how so many people professing faith in Jesus Christ have turned a deaf ear to the truth and are walking still according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit. And they are crying out to God concerning the rampant wickedness going on within the church and with regard to the silence of so many in addressing these serious sin issues.
So, please know that a day of judgment is coming, and those who are still living according to the flesh and not according to the Spirit are going to face the wrath of God, not his mercy and grace, if they do not repent in truth and follow Jesus in obedience to his ways. For we are all going to be judged one day by our deeds. And if we sow to please the flesh, from the flesh we will reap destruction. But if we sow to please the Spirit, from the Spirit we will reap eternal life. So know, believe, and live the truth now before it is too late.
[Lu 9:23-26; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; 1 Co 6:9-10; 2 Co 5:10; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-11; Rom 6:16; Rom 8:3-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 10:26-31; 1 Pet 1:17-21; Jn 15:1-11; Rev. 2-3; Rev 18:1-6; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15; Matt 7:21-23]
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
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(1) Jim Jones and the “Kool-Aid” drink – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drinking_the_Kool-Aid#:~:text=Jones%20proposed%20%22revolutionary%20suicide%22%20by,with%20cyanide%20and%20other%20drugs.