THE CARNAL GOSPEL
by Johannes Facius
"Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse (misleading) things, to draw away the disciples after themselves." (Acts 20:28-30 NKJV)
"I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables."
(2Tim. 4:1-4 NKJV)
When one considers what is going on in the modern charismatic/evangelical church today, one comes to the conclusion that a majority of believers within these circles are completely unaware of the times in which we live. Although the signs of the end of this age are easy to spot, many believers seem to be unable to see them. The major sign of the soon return of our glorious Lord and Saviour, the return of the Jews from the four corners of the earth to the land of Israel and the restoration of the Jewish state is supposed to make us aware of the fact that we are living in the last days of this present age. In the end-time days, according to the Lord Jesus, there will be widespread deception. False prophets will enter the scene and draw believers away from what Paul called "sound doctrine". The centre of these false teachings will be to satisfy peopleís carnal desires. Where the big crowds are to be found today is where the carnal gospel is being preached. The centre of it all is the "I, me and mine" attitude. Man and manís desires are the main focus. Selfishness and egoism is the core of this gospel of carnality. One of the leaders of a mega church in the US was interviewed about the fact that he had abandoned the preaching of the word of God on Sunday mornings and replaced it with easygoing comedy shows. In answer to why he had done this, he said: "We need to give people what they want!" Do you hear what Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles just said? : "ÖAccording to their own desiresÖthey will heap up for themselves teachers, and will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables."
Even if believers do believe that we are in the very last of the last days, where one of the major signs would be false prophets and false apostles, they seem to be unable to identify who they are and where they are operating. One of the latest exposures of this came to light quite recently in an article by J. Lee Grady, the Editor of Charisma magazine. He has been very courageous in taking a stand against the kind of things that he describes below:
"The DEADLY VIRUS of CELEBRITY CHRISTIANITY"
-by J. Lee Grady. (July 27, 2007).
Some bigheaded preachers demand rock star treatment. If the apostle Paul were around today he might throw rocks at them. Just when I thought we charismatics had finally taken enough abuse from the egomaniac ministers in our midst, Iíve learned that some of our leaders are taking things to a new extreme. Weíve moved beyond the red carpets, limousines and entourages of the 1990s. A new strain of the celebrity virus is spreading in large segments of the church.
"What is this sickness spreading in the body of Christ? All I know is that God is grieved by all of this shameful carnality." One friend of mine in Texas recently inquired to see if a prominent preacher could speak at her conference. The ministerís assistant faxed back a list of requirements that had to be met in order to
book a speaking engagement. The demands included:
a.. a five-figure honorarium
b.. a $10,000 gasoline deposit for the private plane
c.. a manicurist and hairstylist for the speaker
d.. a suite in a five-star hotel
e.. a luxury car from the airport to the hotel (2004 model or newer)
f.. room-temperature Perrier
This really makes me wonder how the apostle Paul, Timothy or Priscilla managed ministering to so many people in Ephesus, Corinth and Thessalonica. How did they survive without a manicurist if they broke a nail while laying hands on the sick? I was relieved to know that this celebrity preacherís requirements in 2007 did not include a set of armed bodyguards - because I just might want to jump uninvited into her Rolls-Royce and say a few words.
It gets worse, if you can believe it. At a charismatic conference in an East Coast city recently, a pastor stood on a stage in front of a large crowd and smugly announced that the guest speaker was "more than an apostle." Then the host asked everyone to bow down to.
"This is the only way you can receive this kind of anointing!" the host declared, bowing in front of the speaker. Immediately, about 80 percent of the audience fell prostrate on the floor. The few who were uncomfortable with the weird spiritual control in the room either walked out or stood in silent protest.
So today, I guess itís not enough to feed a celebrity preacherís ego by treating them like a rock star. We also are required to worship him. And apparently in some places you even have to pay big bucks to speak with him. In a city in the South, a well-known preacher is known to ask for money in order to secure a five- or 10-minute counseling session. The minister uses Proverbs 18:16, "A manís gift makes room for him and brings him before great men" (NASB), to support this bizarre practice. Some people are known to give more than $1,000 for a short meeting. People on fixed incomes need not apply. (That would include lepers, blind beggars, Samaritan women or any other social outcasts who were welcomed and healed by Jesus without payment.)
What has become of the American church? What is this sickness spreading in the body of Christ? I donít know whom to blame more for it: The narcissistic minister who craves the attention, or the spiritually naive crowds who place these arrogant people on their shaky pedestals. All I know is that God is grieved by all of this shameful carnality.
How far we have fallen from authentic New Testament faith. Paul, who carried the anointing of an apostle but often described himself as a bond slave, told the Thessalonians, "Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives" (1 Thess. 2:8). New Testament Christianity is humble, selfless and authentic. And those who carry the truth donít preach for selfish gain or to meet an emotional need for attention. May God help us root out the false apostles and false teachers who are making the American church sick with their man-centered, money-focused heresies"
THE GOSPEL OF MATERIALISM
It is incredible that spiritual leaders like the ones mentioned in this shocking document can behave like this. They are of course not "spiritual" but rather carnal leaders. How different this is to the biblical call to believers and leaders to live a life that is worthy of the true gospel. How did Jesus, the head of the church, instruct His messengers when He sent them out to preach the gospel? :
"As you go, preach, saying: The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out the demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts." (Matt.10:7-9)
This is what the Lord said further:
"Therefore do not worry, saying: What shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or what shall we wear? For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." (Matt. 6:31-33)
This is what Paul, the apostle, says:
"Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition." (1.Tim.6:6-9)
All these foolish, money and power-hungry leaders are a disgrace to God and the true gospel. In their carnal and soulish behaviour they are abusing and rejecting the clear word of God.
A SALTLESS AND USELESS CHURCH
What we are facing in these last days is a church in the western world that has become irrelevant and powerless. Dr. Derek Prince wrote in one of his books that the church has become just like secular society. There is no longer any difference. There are today just as many unbiblical divorces and re-marriages inside the church as outside in the world, he says. Because we have allowed sin to come in, and have disobeyed Godís commandments, we have damaged the testimony and have become irrelevant as an alternative way of life to secular society.
Here are the words of our Lord most appropriate:
"You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavour, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men." (Matt. 5:13).
Is it any wonder that Christianity in our part of the world is on the retreat everywhere? We have become like a sick and dying patient. More and more church buildings here in Europe are now for sale. In my birth town of Copenhagen there are at present10 Lutheran churches for sale. Many others have already been sold and are now taken over by fitness centres. In one of them is written over the alter: "God does not live here any more". Islam is on the move and gaining ground.as are other religions like Buddhism. Here in Germany the Dalai Lama has recently assembled a crowd of 10,000 people every night for a week. No Christian leader or evangelist is able to do that any more.
West European Christianity has become a weak bowl of humanistic sweet soup and is by-and- large in danger of becoming the church of Laodicea, of which the Lord said: "I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth." ( Rev. 3:15-16).
THANK GOD FOR THOSE WHO STAND UP AND SPEAK UP. Thank God for men like the Editor of Charisma Magazine, Brother J. Lee Grady. I was also encouraged by some statements made by Rev. Thomas E.Trask, the outgoing superintendent of the Assemblies of God in the USA. This is what he recently said in his resignation letter:
"I have taken time to seek the Lord as to His direction." During his farewell speech, Trask encouraged the largest Pentecostal denomination in the world to uphold righteousness and reject all forms of sin. "What many churches are offering America is a new religion that guarantees no hell and requires no holiness," Trask said. "It is a limp, spineless Christianity that does not confront sin for fear of being judgmental. It is an impotent gospel that tells people everything is OK."
Paul, the Apostle, said "Öthe time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears." (2 Tim. 4:3 KJV).
Well, the time is here and now. We are right in the midst of it. May the Lord help and protect His people.