First, Pastor Richard uses an extremely appropriate McDonald's analogy for his message, which reminded me of the piece I wrote almost a year ago in response to my own church at the time.
Sadly, I'm not alone in having such an experience nowadays.
Despite all the warnings in Scripture that tells us to expect this sort of thing, it's still never easily when it involves people you truly care about, people you have many wonderful memories with, and people you have spent so much time with that you can practically call them "family" even.
Deaf ears, pride, and seared consciences -- these are the weapons often wielded by those who prefer to mount a defense rather than let the truth be their guide.
Sure, they claim to be "Led By The Spirit" and interested in "Making More And Better Disciples of Jesus Christ!" but they constantly refuse to let the Spirit work through the Word of God whenever they refuse to sit down and actually examine what the Word of God says about such things together.
Worse, is when they do spend hours studying the Bible together, admit their error, their sin, but then voluntarily choose to continue believing, teaching, confessing the same errors, half-truths, and lies.
I guess you could say that they are being led by the "Old Adam" within instead and Satan is all too eager to give them any help they desire so that they can continue on along the path they've created for themselves.
Galatians 1:6-10 (ESV) I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel -- not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servantb of Christ.
That brings us to those videos I mentioned.
In just 3 minutes, Pastor Matt Richard clearly explains the critical differences between a truly faithful Christian Church and the all-too-common "Seeker Driven/Seeker-Sensitive Church" we seem to see everywhere nowadays.
From the video's description: "In this episode, Pastor Richard covers the topic of what to look for in a church. What are the benefits of attending a Confessional Lutheran Church versus seeker-driven churches? Pastor Richard points to: Christ, the Sacraments, the Liturgy, and the Confessions as four reasons why the Confessional Lutheran Church rocks!"
The truth? Christ's true Church is always focused on Himself and gathered around His Word and Sacraments (where the focus is on Jesus FOR YOU and what He has done and continues to do for the believer), and it's not always focused on ourselves and gathered around our fellowship and our numerous programs (where the focus is on the believer FOR CHRIST and what he/she/we can do for Jesus).
In addition, just because a church refers to itself as a "Christian" church doesn't mean that it is, and just because it appears "healthy" and "successful" by the world's standards (i.e., number of members/size; number of programs offered; etc.) doesn't mean that it has God's "approval/favor" or that He is well pleased with it either (2 Timothy 3).
The irony is that, by today's standards, Christ Himself would be considered a complete "failure" since He had so few followers. Something for us to prayerfully consider, in my humble opinion.
Now, what is the natural and end result of attending a church that constantly serves you Happy Meals? Thankfully, Pastor Fisk gave us the answer in a recent 5-minute video that has to be one of his best due to the sheer clarity and simplicity with which he delivers the Biblical truth in response to an all-too-common trend in Christianity today (yes, even in Lutheran churches too!).
From the video's description: "Every idea isn't true. Every spirit isn't good. And that means every miracle is not from God, especially in an age where God rules His Church through faith in His Scripture alone."
One of the key statements he made is worth repeating: "How do I explain it when I see self-claimed 'Christians' practicing pagan worship and claiming to be doing 'signs from God'? I acknowledge that the demonic is real and dangerous and I stay away. I judge them by their fruit, which is not their works, but what they confess, and when they deny the REAL MIRACLES, Baptism and the Lord's Supper, things which Jesus has promised, I don't give the claimed 'miracles' much credit -- at least not in so far as making them therefore trustworthy."
1 Timothy 4:1 (ESV) Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons
Jesus's own warnings of apostasy are echoed here by St. Paul.
Those who were once believing members (or maybe even those who still consider themselves believing members) of Christ's Church, will turn away from Christ Himself by rejecting the truths found in His Word, perhaps even rejecting the gift of salvation too.
Still, the good news is that God promises His gift of forgiveness to those who turn to Him in repentance and faith. So please join me in praying for those believers who are being deceived by these "doctrines of demons" and that they would be exposed to the truths found in these videos in order that they would be led to repent and return to "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 1:3).
In a Lutheran layman's terms, may we always let Scripture interpret Scripture so that our doctrine may be pure and so that our doctrine may inform our practices in the very churches that bear our Lord and Savior's holy and precious name.
NOTE: Please understand that I'm not a called and ordained minister of God's Word and Sacraments. I'm a layman or just a regular Christian, Executive Recruiter, Husband, Father, Friend who lives in the "City of Good Neighbors" here on the East Coast. To be more specific, and relevant to the point I want to make with this disclaimer/note, please understand that I'm also a newly converted Confessional Lutheran who recently escaped American Evangelicalism a little more than 2 years ago now. That being said, please contact me ASAP if you believe that any of my "old beliefs" seem to have crept their way into any of the material you see published here, and especially if any of the content is inconsistent with our Confessions and Lutheran doctrine (in other words, if it's not consistent with God's Word, which our Confessions merely summarize and repeatedly point us back to over and over again) so that I can correct those errors immediately and not lead any of His little ones astray (James 3:1). Also, please be aware that you might also discover that some of the earlier pieces I wrote for this blog back in 2013 definitely fall into that "Old Evangelical Adam" category since I was a "Lutheran-In-Name-Only" at the time and was completely oblivious to the fact that a Christian "Book of Concord" even existed (Small/Large Catechism? What's that!?!). This knowledge of the Lutheran basics was completely foreign to me even though I was baptized, confirmed, and married in an LCMS church! So, there are some entries that are a little "out there" so-to-speak since the subject matter was also heavy influenced by those old beliefs of mine. I know that now and I'm still learning. Anyway, I decided to leave those published posts up on this website and in cyberspace only because they are not blasphemous/heretical, because we now have this disclaimer, and only to demonstrate the continuing work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in my life (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6). Most importantly, please know that any time I engage in commenting on and/or interpreting a specific portion of the holy Scriptures, it will always closely follow the verse-by-verse notes from my Lutheran Study Bible and/or include references to the Book of Concord unless otherwise noted. Typically, I defer to what other Lutheran Pastors both past and present have already preached and taught about such passages since they are the called and ordained shepherds of our souls here on earth. Finally, I'm going to apologize ahead of time for the length of most entries (this disclaimer/note is a perfect example of what I mean! haha). I'm well aware that blogs should be short, sweet, and to the point, but I've never been one to follow the rules when it comes to writing. Besides, this website is more like a "Christian Dude's Diary" in the sense that everything I write about and share publicly isn't always what's "popular" or "#trending" at the time, but is instead all the things that I'm studying myself at the moment. For better or for worse, these posts tend to be much longer than most blog entries you'll find elsewhere only because I try to pack as much info as possible into a single piece so that I can refer to it again and again over time if I need to (and so that it can be a valuable resource for others -- if possible, a "One-Stop-Shop" of sorts). Thank you for stopping by and thank you in advance for your time, help, and understanding. Feel free to comment/email me at any time. Grace and peace to you and yours!