The Bible and the Gospel are at enmity with the spirit of this world - and what's worse, that spirit is creeping into the Church and becoming part of its culture. We are being influenced by the world, instead of influencing the world!
The good news is that there are churches that still preach an authentic Gospel. But they're not always easy to find. Fortunately, Jesus told us before the Ascension what to look for in an authentic church. We need to obey His words!
“Now when Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him as they mourned and wept. When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe it.
"After that He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either.
"Afterward He appeared to the eleven as they sat at supper, and He reprimanded them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.
"He said to them, 'Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved. But he who does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.'
"After the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven and sat at the right hand of God. Then they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen" (MEV).
"Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, 'Has God said, "You shall not eat of any tree of the garden?”'
"And the woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat of the fruit from the trees of the garden; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, "You will not eat of it, nor will you touch it, or else you will die.”'
"Then the serpent said to the woman, 'You surely will not die! For God knows that on the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'
"When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasing to the eyes and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
"Then they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. The Lord God called to the man and said to him, 'Where are you?'
"He said, 'I heard Your voice in the garden and was afraid because I was naked, so I hid myself.'
"And He said, 'Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?'
"The man said, 'The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.'
Then the Lord God said to the woman, 'What have you done?'
"And the woman said, 'The serpent deceived me, and I ate.'
"The Lord God said to the serpent: 'Because you have done this,
You are cursed above all livestock,
and above every beast of the field;
you will go on your belly,
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he will bruise your head,
and you will bruise his heel.'
"To the woman He said,
'I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth,
and in pain you will bring forth children;
your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.'
"And to Adam He said, 'Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, "You shall not eat of it,"
Cursed is the ground on account of you;
in hard labor you will eat of it
all the days of your life.
Thorns and thistles it will bring forth for you,
and you will eat the plants of the field.
By the sweat of your face
you will eat bread
until you return to the ground,
because out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you will return.'
"The man called his wife’s name Eve because she was the mother of all the living.
"The Lord God made garments of skins for both Adam and his wife and clothed them. The Lord God said, 'The man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil. And now, he might reach out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever'— therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove the man out, and at the east of the garden of Eden He placed the cherubim and a flaming sword which turned in every direction, to guard the way to the tree of life” (MEV).
We have removed warnings from our doctrine. So, like cars driving through an intersection when there's no stoplight, we continually court disaster.
Sound doctrine is like guardrails for the Church and for individual believers. They keep us from running off the road and crashing.
Christianity is meant to be a narrow path (see Matthew 19:24). We are called to holiness, and we are faced with strategic inflection points several times each day that allow us to choose holiness as a response to the circumstances we face.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil in Genesis 3 was very much like a stoplight at an intersection. It was a reminder of the only restriction that God placed upon Adam and Eve. Obeying that instruction every time they passed the tree was an opportunity for holiness. Each of us encounter numerous similar opportunities on a daily basis. What choice do you make when you are "at the tree?"
Another choice we face is the kind of church we attend. And we know what we should look for! Jesus told His disciples, just before he ascended to heaven, that gatherings of believers would be typified by casting out devils, speaking in other tongues and healing the sick by the laying on of hands.
These things scare a lot of Christians because they've never been exposed to them. But they're in red print in your Bible, as an explanation of what Christians should do!
Thank You for making Your demands upon my life so very clear! I am excited about Your call to holiness – to love You and to love people – because it is the most excellent way to live. Order my steps so that I may radiate Your love to all I encounter and so I may call attention to You because of the way I live my life.
Thank You for showing in Your Word about the kind of church I should be attend, to grow in Your knowledge until I become like You. My heart's desire is to always choose holiness, Heavenly Father.
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ – Jehovah Joshua Messiah – I pray. Amen!