Christianity...is a road less traveled. Religion is overcrowded. Too overcrowded. I may be a little claustrophobic--just a little. I can handle being in large crowds, but I have a tendancy to search out the closest exits whenever in a crowded space. I prefer to sit close to exits. In case of a fire, or as is popular today, a mass shooting, I'd like to be prepared to make a quick exit. But I don't fear crowds. They're as alluring to me as an electric light on a porch at night to a moth. Crowds attract crowds. There's something psychological about large crowds: the consensus being that truth is constituted by the majority; the consensus being that the majority possesses a divine degree of discernment; the consensus being that there is safety in a large crowd. Maybe we as Christians have allowed too many pop-culture phrases and beliefs to influence our perspective on life; hence, we use as gospel pop-culture phrases like two heads--or three, or four--are better than one. Well, that depends on the identity of the one whom the head belongs to. According to Jesus, the biggest problem the world is facing today is the phenomenon of the blind leading the blind (Matthew 15:14)--or to use our modern terminology, the clueless following the crowd. Before a new Believer in Christ can begin to truly comprehend the Christian faith, they must first get rid of the crowd-mentality. Failure to do so will ultimately lead to the cultivation of a counterfeit Christianity. Getting "saved" (to use that term) is the beginning of the journey, not the end. The theme that is repeated throughout the New Testament is the importance of remaining in the faith; or as the writer of Hebrews puts it, "Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise" (Heb 10:23, New Living Translation). The Bible goes on to say, "So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away. But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved" (vs. 36-39). In case you don't understand what this text is saying, God's word reminds us here to: continue living according to God's word, practicing our faith in Christ regardless of how difficult it may get, regardless of how intense the persecution we face just for being Christians. The warning is against "turning away" from Christ, "wavering" in your faith, and throwing "away" your "confident trust" in God which brings the reward of heaven and heavenly wealth...as well as authority on earth with Christ when He sets up His earthly kingdom. I said all of that to say this: Christianity is a journey, one you must commit to carrying out until the end. So don't jump off of the path, and don't let anyone fool you into thinking you've already reached the finish line when you're still at the starting point. We are "being saved". (I'll explain why I'm not a Calvinist in another post.) I used the phrase "counterfeit Christianty" a moment ago. What is it? Counterfeit Christianity is a movement that juxtaposes biblical Christianity in that it looks and sounds like biblical Christianity but is not authentic Christianity. The Bible talks about counterfeit Christianity in many passages: in Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus talked about the false convert who mistook charismatic gifts for salvation and thought wrongly that they could live immorally (iniquity in that passage means "transgresion of the law" in the Greek) and still make it into heaven; in 2 Timothy 3:5, Paul talked about many who "will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly" (NLT); in Revelation 17, God revealed to John the emergence of an apostate church in the last days, one that would completely compromise with the world and serve Satan's agenda. So, just out of these few examples, we have: false converts who are spiritually gifted but hellbound due to their participation in immoral practices, church goers who aren't really saved--though highly religious--because of their rejection of the Holy Spirit in their daily lives, and those who are false converts due to their attempt to be both in Christ and in the world. And there are more examples than these. In Revelation 18:4, God instructs His people to "come out of her" and avoid being partakers in her sins lest He judge them along with this wicked apostate church. So, there is a price to pay for being in cahoots with the wicked. In fact, Paul said to "mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned" and avoid these false teachers lest they pull a spiritual wool over your eyes for their own financial gain. According to James chapter 3, false teachers will face the "greater condemnation" from God in judgment, but those who bought their lies, as Peter states in 2 Peter chapter 2, will find themselves in jeopardy of slipping back into the bondage of sin God delivered them from. And Peter concludes that "...when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before. It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life" (vs. 20-21, NLT). So, letting someone fool you into thinking you don't have to live a holy life, a life of obedience to God's word as a Christian, will cost you your soul. It's dangerous to believe false teachings, heed a false gospel, practice a counterfeit Christianity. Can you be a gay Christian? Can you practice Chrislam (Rick Warren's marriage of Christianity and Islam)? Can you practice yoga and Christianity (yogo is a Hindu practice of worshipping Hindu gods. Yoga literally means "union with Brahma," the chief Hindu deity)? Can you practice the occult and practice Christianity (the occult is condemned in Deuteronomy 18 and 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; therefore, no astrology, horoscopes, Quija boards, psychic consultation, voodoo, witchcraft, magic oils and incense, charms, etc.)? Can you stand with a politician and/or political party that stands against God's word and still call yourself a Christian? Is it enough to simply be a church-goer who hears the word, but is not a doer also? Is it enough to be a nominal Christian who's lukewarm, and not be hot for God? If anyone tells you that you can do these things and still be a Christian, they're lying to you. It's not about the latest and most popular theology. It's not about the newest and most popular preacher. It's not about what the overall church denominational governing body accepts or believes (for example, the Presbyterian Church governing committee just voted to accept gay marriage and to oppose Israel. Yes, they've bumped their heads). It's about what the Bible says. And it's important to note that the Bible prophesied that the majority, the crowd, would bite the bait of a counterfeit Christianity in the last days. Are you following the crowd? Are you going to a particular church simply because it has a big congregation? Are you listening to a certain preacher simply because they have a large church and/or is popular? The main question is: Are you on the narrow road that's least traveled, or on the extremely crowded broad path that leads to destruction? Jesus said, "You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hellfn is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it" (Matthew 7:13-14, NLT). Some evangelicals today are doing spiritual construction on that narrow path, working to widen the road. They have their philosopical jack hammers, asphalt cutters and road brooms, and they're ready to pour the cement of liberal theology down to widen the road in order to make true Christianity more inclusive of the world and of sin. New churches are seeking for a way to make the most hated name in the world (yes, Jesus said His true followers would be hated by all peoples for His name sake in Matthew chapter 24) cool and trendy by using all manner of marketing techniques; but how can you make holiness appear hip, hell appear cool, sinlessness appear appealing, abstinance seem fun, the gospel of exclusivity (which says there is only one way to heaven, not many ways; and that one way is Jesus the Christ) not sound offensive to a world accepting of Universalism and pluralism? How do you market the truth which slays dead the flesh and condemns everything the world deems cool? You can't evangelize by marketing Jesus to the world because the world cannot receive the Holy Spirit (John chapter 14, 16). Only people willing to follow the Holy Spirit will be receptive to the gospel message. If the road can be widened, then the gospel can be changed, the Bible's content can be changed, and new verses can be added to the Bible...daily. The Bible would cease from being a closed book carrying the divine revelation of God and would truly become the product of the people. But thank God that the road can't be widened and glazed over with the asphalt of manmade philosophy. That means you just have to be careful that you're not on...the wrong road: the most traveled, most popular, most crowded one. Sometimes, you may even feel as if you're the only one on the straight and narrow as Elijah did; but remember this: suffer now; rejoice later. That's better than laughing now, and then spending an eternity screaming while burning in the flames of hell.
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