For many months, I have been hearing strongly about a coming division in the American Church. It is the division between the true Church, and a false one. By a false church, I do not mean those who openly deny the deity of Christ and subscribe to grossly unorthodox beliefs. Those have been with us for a long time already and are fairly recognizable for what they are. No, the false church I am referring to is more subtle. And it is fast gaining influence even within evangelical and Spirit-filled congregations.
Many in the false church were at one time aligned with the true, but have veered off course. For those who are pastors/leaders in this false church move, their deviation from the true may have started with a desire for more church growth, popularity with society as a whole, a fear of being persecuted, or the drive to gain more wealth for themselves and their churches.
Because many started out all right, the lines between the true and false have been blurred, and there has been much confusion about which is which. Some of the leaders of this false church continue to convincingly talk the right talk in some ways, while having shifted into compromise and deception in others. They say a lot of wonderful, highly quotable things, which encourage us all that we are loved by God, that God wants to bless us, and that He intends for us to be successful at impacting our world. Those messages are not bad in themselves. We need to be encouraged. The problem is that these good words are mixed with a lot of humanism — worship of ourselves. The gospel message, with Jesus being central, is distorted or nonexistent, and instead there is a constant barrage of “If you just think and speak positively, there are no limits to how successful you can be!”
In the midst of the fog of who is who and which is which, God is dropping a plumb line into the Church, which will clearly divide the straight and true from the crooked and false. As time goes on, the distinctions between the two will grow more apparent. Believers will have to make a clear choice to come out from fellowshipping within the false and make a conscious step over into the true, if they are going to continue on with the Lord.
Jesus’ parable of the wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-30) is another illustration of what is currently happening. At first the tares look very much like the wheat. It is hard to discern between them. But as the plants mature, the differences become more noticeable. Likewise, we are approaching the point where the distinctions between the false and the true Church will become more marked. And when we notice the differences, each of us will have to determine whether we’re going to malnourish our spiritual stomachs with “tares” teaching or whether we will only ingest the wheat.
What are some telltale signs of a false message?
1.) Universalism — The belief that all will be saved, that no one will go to hell, because God is love, is a heresy which has been around in one form or another for a long time. But in recent years it has made large inroads into many evangelical churches. Jesus is presented as the best way to the Father, but not the only way. The end of what Jesus said in John 14:6, “NO man comes to the Father except through Me” is conveniently not quoted.
2.) A message which is primarily motivational in nature — There is minimal talk about Jesus, the cross, living a sacrificial lifestyle of obedience to Him, or Jesus’ soon return. The focus is on having a satisfying life now, with little emphasis on eternity. YOUR destiny purpose now, YOUR success now, YOUR happiness now is the all-in-all, rather than the Lord’s desires being fulfilled at any cost.
3.) Anything goes — The message implies or openly states that God understands we all sin and therefore does not mind if we indulge in whatever sin we would like to keep indulging in.
4.) Acceptance of homosexuality — This is snowballing on us at an alarming rate, and I personally think it is going to be the clearest dividing line between the true Church and the false in the next couple of years. Several prominent ministries have already fallen off the cliff on this issue, and I think that within a year or two we will see some internationally known pastors openly embracing homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle within their churches. They are already on the brink and teetering.
Watch out for any teaching which says people can be practicing homosexuals and still be Christians at the same time. No matter how much some may want to explain it away, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10 still says what it says: “Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither fornicators [sexually impure], nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind [homosexuals], nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
When God drops a plumb line, it is important not to stay on the wrong side of it. We will have to decide whom we want to please and whom we are willing to offend. We will have to choose whether we are going to compromise in order to stay comfortable (and popular), or whether we will abide by what God says, no matter how much ridicule, and even persecution, we endure.
James 4:4 states the choice clearly: “… Do you not know that the friendship of the world [system] is at enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” We can’t have it both ways.
The apostle Paul exhorted the Corinthian believers, “What fellowship does righteousness have with unrighteousness? And what communion does light have with darkness? … ‘Wherefore, come out from among them, and be separate, … and I will receive you and will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
Moses asked, in a time of crisis within the Israelite camp, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Let him come to me” (Exodus 32:26). God is asking that same question of us today. Let us get up and step across to Him. His plumb line is the dividing point between spiritual life and death.