Scriptures referenced in this article:
Mt. 7:21 π Lk. 4:41 π Jn. 4:24; 2nd π Jn. 7:17 π Acts 16:17 π 2 Cor. 11:3-4 π 2 Ths. 2:10 π 1 Tim. 4:1
If you're seeing discrepancies and differences between the New Testament and "church" - and not just your "church" but "church" practices in general - you are not alone by any means. The "church" paradigm tells us we need a building in which to meet and a "pastor"/preacher to "feed" us and that we need do little more than show up once or twice a week and give money to support this "work of God." There certainly is much more to the "church" paradigm than this but these are its two most prominent deceptions. Those who are comfortable in this counterfeit delusion called "church" will be deeply offended by the truths written of on this site. Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness and truth and who have dedicated their lives to finding only the will of God for their lives will find confirmation, clarification, instruction, edification and comfort here. Let he who has ears hear.
According to "Time Almanac 2005" Protestantism (a steady 63% for decades) fell to 52% from 93 to 02. The author gives 3 reasons: 1) not enough required commitment; 2) denominations that aggressively courted members are turning to other tasks (like social activism); and 3) mainline church birthrates are lower than national averages. Some simply see this as the wake up call from God that it is.
In the face of this decline, "The category that has really jumped [up] (from 8% to 14%) in the past decade is people who say they don't subscribe to any religious identification. They still believe in basics like God, heaven, and the Bible as an inspired text, but prefer to think of themselves as spiritual rather than anything more specific." (David Van Biema, "Time Almanac 2005," "Roll Over, Martin Luther," p. 358 - emphasis added) This is almost a doubling in size of this group and could represent as many as ten million people! This is a report from a secular newsman (as far as I know) but that 8-14% sure sounds like genuine followers of Christ to me! (see Jn. 4:24; top)
I'd like to remind you that denominations have always suffered from what many have termed the "percentage rule." Depending on who you hear say it, this rule states: 10 to 20% of the people in the "church" do 80 to 100% of the work of God and the "church!" This is roughly the same percentage that Time says have stepped away from mainline churches and taken to following Christ and God spiritually! Hmm. God's true remnant is abandoning the carnal churches. They are recognizing that spiritually following Christ is very different than going to "church."
The "churches" that still enjoy huge numbers do so because they preach a different Jesus (meek, mild, tolerant - not holy, righteous and the only way to the Father, etc.), a different gospel (works, feel good, error/heresy, etc.) or they preach a "reasonably accurate" gospel (as accurate as human, soulish, intellectual reasoning can make it) in the power of a different spirit, a demonic, unclean, evil spirit. (see Lk. 4:41; Acts 16:17 if you think the demonic won't reveal truth!) Either of these three - or some subtle combination of the three - will deceive and corrupt the followers of Christ away from the spiritual simplicity that is in Christ. ( 2 Cor. 11:3-4; Jn. 4:24 ) This is the apostasy, the great falling away from the faith - and it is all being accomplished in the context of "church." It is here, folks - and it will get worse.
The protections from the deceptions ranged against us are to 1) love the truth more than we love our own opinions, especially our leftover theologies - 2 Ths. 2:10 2) desire God's will so that we will know the difference between the teachings of God, men and even demons. ( Jn. 7:17; 1 Tim. 4:1) and 3) actually do God's will - whatever that is, no matter how much it costs us or in what way it might cost us. ( Mt. 7:21, top)
I'd love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!