Maybe you didn’t know it, but the church is changing. A whole slew of Christian leaders and authors are telling us that the church needs to change in order to meet the needs of a lost world. This church changing movement is called the Emergent Church or the Emerging Church. It comes in a variety of different forms.
Here is a list of some of them:
• The Word of Faith Movement
• Prosperity Gospel Movement
• Social Gospel Movement
• Seeker Friendly Movement
• The Vintage Christianity Movement
• Kingdom of God Movement
In this article I will discuss these movements and compare them to the authentic Gospel of the Bible.
Perhaps your church is involved in one of these movements. I want to show you where they miss the mark so that you can correct your efforts to live a Godly life.
Are these “movements” consistent with the Gospel of the Bible? It’s critical that they are. If not, the Apostle Paul says, “let them be under God’s curse”.
For this reason we have to be crystal clear about the gospel we are spreading. We have to make sure that we are preaching the Gospel that Christ preached.
The Apostle Paul’s Admonition to the Galatians
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a DIFFERENT GOSPEL— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, LET THEM BE UNDER GOD’S CURSE!
So what is the Gospel that Jesus preached?
In Matthew we see that Jesus preached the need for:
2. Kingdom of Heaven.
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."
Jesus preached repentance and John the Baptist before him preached repentance. To understand the importance of repentance read my article, The Importance of Repentance in the Process of Salvation.
But what is the Kingdom of Heaven and how does it fit into the gospel message?
But what is the Kingdom of Heaven and how does it fit into the gospel message?
The Gospel of the Kingdom
Understanding the Gospel of the Kingdom begins by understanding the REASON Jesus died.
Did He die to save us from our sins? Yes. Did He die so we would go to heaven? Yes. But even these do not explain the reason God sent Christ.
The Bible is actually a LOVE STORY about a King and His citizens. God placed man on earth to rule over His earthly domain. But something happened. Through treachery man lost control of the Kingdom. The Bible is about a Heavenly King and what He did to recapture the Kingdom and restore man to it.
The PURPOSE of the cross was to restore man TO something not just save him FROM something.
The reason Jesus died was to take back the Kingdom Adam lost to Satan in the garden. God was restoring man to a position of STEWARDSHIP through the Lordship of our King Jesus Christ.
But how is this stewardship achieved? The answer to this question is what separates the TRUE gospel of Jesus Christ form the False gospels of the Emergent church.
Does God want us to begin working to restore His Kingdom on earth— an external Kingdom?
Or is there another kingdom that Jesus had in mind?
In Luke 17 we see the kingdom that Jesus had in mind:
Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is WITHIN you."
This kingdom is WITHIN YOU.
It isn’t the external kingdom that God wants us to reestablish. That kingdom will be reestablished by Jesus Christ Himself at His second coming.
The kingdom that Christ came to restore was the INTERNAL kingdom.
The internal kingdom is made evident by the very NATURE of the King Himself.
Jesus came as a SUFFERING SERVANT.
By His stripes we are healed.
Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: BY WHOSE STRIPES YE WERE HEALED. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
1 Peter 2:24-25
The scripture below shows us HOW the internal kingdom is lived out within us:
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
In short, God wants us to put on the character of Christ (Galatians 2:20).
This is the Gospel of the Kingdom.
It is a life of sanctification. How sanctification works can be understood by reading my article, How Sanctification Works in the Life of a Christian).
The Emergent Church
But the Emergent Church wants to change the Gospel of the Kingdom.
They want to make it an EXTERNAL kingdom. In doing so they pervert the Gospel of Christ.
The Bible says that in the latter times, some will depart from the faith and produce doctrines of devils.
I believe it is the Emergent Church.
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and DOCTRINES OF DEVILS.
1 Timothy 4:1
What are some of these doctrines?
Words of Faith Movement
Just like Satan subtly twisted the words of God in the Garden.
For God said, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, OR YOU WILL DIE.
But Satan said, “YOU WILL NOT CERTAINLY DIE, for God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
The Emergent Church subtly twists the implication of the INTERNAL Kingdom (the new birth).
They say because we are born of God, we are “little gods” and we have the characteristics of God Himself. When we speak, we create. Therefore by faith we can speak things into existence.
Kingdom of God Movement
They also say that God has subjugated Himself to the words of man in His earthly creation. This is so because they say God gave man dominion over the earth. Therefore God CAN’T act unless they speak. While it’s true that God chooses to use man in the restoration of His Kingdom, it’s not man’s words that God wants man to speak. It’s HIS WORDS. Man has no authority independent of God.
Prosperity Gospel Movement
Because of this ability to speak and create, the Emergent Church rationalizes that God does not want them sick and poor. “What King has children that are sick and poor,” they ask? They have no concept of the internal kingdom God wants to build in them. Instead they choose the external kingdom. They claim they have inherited the riches of heaven. They claim that by their “words” they bring heaven to earth.
This illustration reflects the attitude of their heart:
Seeker Friendly Movement
Because the Emergent Church is culture sensitive, the gospel is conformed to the FELT needs of the community around them. If the need to “die to self” or “carry their cross” is ever mentioned— it’s only in passing. The “sinner’s prayer” is quick and easy. No one really has to face the cold ugly truth of their SIN. Church is a FUN and comfortable experience. Worship is cool. The music is awesome!
Vintage Christianity Movement
However, some in the Emergent Church want more than a Seeker Friendly experience. They see it as too superficial. They want a more profound encounter with God through experiences, techniques, litanies and ritual. These experiences include yoga, a walking prayer labyrinth, contemplative prayer, prayer alters, bells, incense and candles— all sensual, seductive, but not Biblical. These practices borrow from eastern and cultic religions and have no place in the life of a believer. God detests those that Christianize what’s pagan.
Social Gospel Movement
With all their needs being met, and “blessed” as they are, the Emergent Church wants to spread the message of Christ through a Social Gospel. After all, didn’t Jesus feed the poor, heal the sick? We can only be truly Christian if we are “doing” something for God, they say.
While these are good activities, they are external and don’t address man’s inner need for repentance. “Works” in the internal Kingdom are non compulsory. They are the fruit of an inner experience with God, not a means to self justification.
But the Social Gospel Movement makes no mention of this. The focus is external only. It’s an ecumenical call for “all religions” to unite.
Read this from Rick Warren’s Website:
The PEACE Plan is a hopeful response to the five giant problems of the world: Spiritual Emptiness, Self-Serving, Leadership, Poverty, Disease, and Illiteracy. PEACE is a movement to mobilize Christians in churches working together to:
Plant churches that promote reconciliation
Equip servant leaders
Assist the poor
Care for the sick
Educate the next generation
P.E.A.C.E, it spells “peace”. Wow, cool ( not really)!
All of these “movements” are part of the Emergent Church’s belief that they are commissioned by God to bring the external Kingdom of Heaven to earth before Christ returns. These movements are superficial, self serving and ungodly.
What about the internal experience that Christ died for? What about the need to REPENT from sin and be sanctified? What about the inner life of God? What about the fruit of the Spirit?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
This is what the heart of a man who serves God looks like:
The Emergent Church produces a different kind of fruit because they operate in the flesh:
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
They have departed from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and DOCTRINES OF DEVILS (1 Timothy 4:1).
They are the church that Jesus mentions at His second coming:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. MANY will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I NEVER KNEW YOU. Away from me, you evildoers!’
Make sure you are not included in the MANY above. Seek God’s face. Repent and heed His Word.
In my next article I will discuss the Gifts of the Spirit. Did they cease in the first century or are they in operation today? The misuse of spiritual gifts is a major contributor to the apostasy we see in the Emergent Church today. How do we put a LID on this abuse? What does the Bible have to say?