There have been few things more damaging to the church’s witness than how it has handled moral failure among its leaders. Not simply that there has been moral failure – that is damaging enough – but how it is then handled by the church. Too many times it has simply added to the pain and disdain. Whether pedophiles, serial adulterers, or those who misuse church authority and discipline, headlines and blogs are filled with outrage and indignation over not simply the acts, but the church’s response. So why do so many churches bungle moral failure among leaders?

Many churches today are experiencing numbers that are declining and conflict within itself because its leaders exercise a level of authority over the members that Jesus himself urged not to be so. This has resulted in members becoming frustrated and apathetic about their role in the body of Christ.

A wise man once said, “If you’re a leader and no one is following, you’re just out for a walk.” Success rises and falls with leadership. A church leader must be involved with his or her people. If involvement does not take place, the Church will not grow. I have seen too many instances where leaders have become more concerned with authority, power and control than how they can be a servant and true shepherd to the people who are a part of their flock. Members become frustrated; they don’t really feel that their opinions really matter because they have no say in what happens.

The most dangerous leader in churches is the person, who by reason of insecurity or lack of leadership skills, demands a particular level of authority and control over the church that was never intended. In fact, Jesus prohibited the use of this kind of authority. Anytime you hear people talk about “not speaking against God’s anointed,” watch out! Just because a person is a church leader does not qualify them as God’s anointed! If you have used those words, please consider what it might mean. God may very well call a man to a special office and give him a special anointing to carry out that office. But the role of the pastor is to be a shepherd who leads, and not one who drags the flock, or pushes them. Yes, they may need to spiritually prod according to God’s Word, but never are they instructed to Lord over the flock. (I Peter 5:3)

Who’s voice are you listening to?

True leadership is about influence, not authority. As Jesus said, “The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” (John 10:3-5)

When sheep hear a shepherd’s voice they know it will lead them to cool waters, green pastures and his protection at night. They know their shepherd “goes on ahead of them.” He doesn’t drive them like cattle. It’s interesting that right after Jesus said those words in John 10 about shepherding, John commented on the fact that “Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.” (v6) Sadly, too many leaders today don’t understand it either. If you’re a pastor and wondering why you seem to be embroiled in constant conflict and your members don’t seem to be following you, Jesus gives the answer: “They don’t know your voice!”

We need to know Him

There are two Greek words for “know”. The word “ginosko” speaks of a surface knowledge, a simple understanding. But the other word “horad” speaks of a deep, intimate knowledge. I have many friends and neighbors who “know” (ginosko) me, but my wife really “knows” (horad) me. She has a deep, intimate knowledge of me that very few other people have.

The first century Church had this deep, intimate knowledge of God and grew at breakneck speed. Yet at the same time, the level of personal care and love for their fellow believers grew also. “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. ” (Acts 4:32-35)

Can the same be said of the Church today? Are we growing, both spiritually and numerically, as the early Church did? Sadly, in most cases, no. So back to my original question, “What has happened to the Church today?”

The problem is that too many people have only two ideologies about the Church today. If your ideology is worldly, you’ll have a set of core values that are probably pretty warped, and focused on the pleasures you can receive in life, reflected in your beliefs, actions and experiences.

The other option is having an ideology of the Church as an institution. For too many people their ideology of the Church has changed from the Church as the body of Christ, to the Church as an institution. If your ideology is the Church as an institution, the core values that you develop will eventually lead to overpowering controlling leaders, negative atmospheres, declining numbers, maintaining the status quo and uninvolved members who are content to sit through stiff and lifeless worship services. You’ve seen it. You might even be experiencing it right now.

So what’s the answer? We need to get our focus, our ideology, back to Jesus, our Messiah. When we do, our core values will change. We will begin to value serving others, living to please God, and understanding that we have been uniquely gifted for ministry. We will begin to see the Church as one body, and not as just belonging to our own particular denomination. Our worship will take on a whole new meaning, our involvement will become a natural expression of our desire to please God, and our leadership will become focused on shepherding a body of believers rather than managing them.

Once our focus comes back in line where it needs to be, our churches will no longer be a diverse group of denominations, but we will truly be on our way to true revival and becoming the Church that God intended!

A tug-of-war at the Vatican intensified Thursday, Oct. 16th over calls for the Catholic Church to be more open to gays and cohabiting couples as conservative bishops sought to rein in or renounce language they feared might condone lifestyles not in accord with Church teachings. A final report was epitomized by the re-translation in the text that reads: “Are we capable of providing for these people, guaranteeing them a place of fellowship in our communities?”

Many conservative Christians are up in arms over the fact that the Pope is considering providing homosexuals a place of fellowship in his churches. And yet, these same Christians seem to overlook the more dangerous aspect of this ruling—allowing unrepentant sinners to be included in the Church community.

Contrary to popular belief, homosexuality is NOT the thing that God hates the most.

“There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.” (Proverbs 6:16-19) Isn’t it interesting that homosexuality is not even mentioned as one of the seven things that God hates?

The Bible tells us, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside.” (1Cor. 5:12-13)

But in the preceding verse, the apostle warns us that anyone who CLAIMS to be a Christian but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler, we’re not to even to associate with such people.

I firmly believe that those in the Church should not judge or reproach those outside the Church who are unrepentant, but I also believe that all believers should take responsibility for those who do not repent from public sin that bring reproach on the name of Christ.

The great revivalist, Charles Finney is quoted as saying, “When the Church finds its members falling into gross and scandalous sins, then it is time for the Church to awake and cry to God for a revival of religion.”

The Church used to be an uncompromising beacon of light to this darkened world. So when did it change?

Years ago I had a conversation with some people who were discussing how to get more unsaved people to come to church. They were shocked when I said, “You don’t.”

I’m not suggesting that we place guards at the door of the church and check people for salvation, but I don’t encourage people to invite unrepentant sinners into a church service either. Here is the reason why:

“This is what the LORD Almighty says: Ask the priests what the law says: If someone carries consecrated meat in the fold of their garment, and that fold touches some bread or stew, some wine, olive oil or other food, does it become consecrated?  The priests answered, “No.” Then Haggai said, “If a person defiled by contact with a dead body touches one of these things, does it become defiled?” “Yes,” the priests replied, “it becomes defiled.” Then Haggai said, “So it is with this people and this nation in my sight, declares the LORD. Whatever they do and whatever they offer there is defiled.” (Haggai 2:11-14)

Let me paraphrase in modern terms what Haggai was saying. If a person smells fresh and clean who had just showered hugs a skunk, would the skunk start to smell better, or would the person begin to stink? And if a person was hospitalized for a highly contagious disease and a healthy person came to visit them, would the sick person get better, or would the healthy person become sick? This is what has happened to God’s Church and our nation!

It began oh so subtly. First we thought, “Let’s bring the unsaved into our church service so they can hear the gospel.” Then we said, “Let’s make them feel more part of our church and let them greet people at the door.” Then we said, “Let’s let them teach a Sunday school class.” And now we have pastors who have been convicted of sexual immorality, idolatry, slander, drunkenness and defrauding their congregation of money! It seems as if the devil himself has been invited to church!

Some have told me that they invite unsaved people to church so that they can hear the gospel. To those people I say that they need to repent of their laziness! Because Luke 14:22-23 says WE are to go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in…So that God’s HOUSE may be filled. Not our church building, but that GOD”S HOUSE may be filled.

Sermons and Bible teaching do not save people. Only God’s Spirit convicts and saves the sinner. I know of many people, (myself included) that were saved outside of a church building. I know of one man who was saved in the middle of a Led Zeppelin concert!

Realistically we can’t keep unsaved people from coming to a church service. But we need to allow God’ Spirit to bring them in and not some evangelistic program. Throughout the New Testament, the early Christians met with one another to worship together, to learn together and to disciple one another. Everywhere Paul went, he raised up churches that were eager to share their faith and zeal with one another. But nowhere in the New Testament does it mention anyone inviting unrepentant sinners to be part of the Church.

So let’s stop judging those outside the Church and start examining ourselves INSIDE the Church. I pray that God will send a spirit of conviction and repentance to His Church and give her the courage to change the world!

Many Christians today view God’s Laws as a negative thing. They say that “we are not under Law but under grace”. Many have not even bothered to study the Old Testament because they believe that the death and resurrection of Jesus, (Yeshua) did away with the Old Testament commands to observe God’s Kosher Laws and Holy Days and they quote Colossians 2: 16-17 as proof of this: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Messiah.”

But in spite of popular belief in many churches, the New Testament writings were not Gentile in nature, but were primarily written BY Jewish believers TO Jewish believers. Look at the whole chapter of Colossians 2: Paul (Sha’ul) is expressing his concern for the Colossians and he cautions them against false teachers among the Jews who were infecting the Colossian congregations with Gentile philosophies which were taking the focus off of Yeshua. (v8-12)

Sha’ul was reminding the Colossian believers of their life in Yeshua and not to let anyone judge them for their faithfulness towards God’s commands and Holy Days. Sha’ul wisely points out that these convocations were a “shadow” of things to come. In other words, every observance of God’s Holy Days is actually pointing to Yeshua Himself — the one who triumphed on our behalf! So Sha’ul exhorts the Colossians not to let these false teachers judge them–or worse, to persuade them to stop observing these things! They are to stand firm and CONTINUE the observance!

The Holy Days always pointed to Yeshua. And now that Yeshua has come, we should continue to keep God’s appointed times, but with greater understanding of Yeshua to whom they point to! So we are to keep the feasts not refrain from them!

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.“ (Matthew 5:17-19)

Some misinterpret the Bible verse above and teach that Yeshua accomplished everything when he was crucified and thereby fulfilled the Law. But let’s look at this passage and see what Yeshua would be saying if this were true and see if it would make any sense:

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but I have come to fulfill them. Now that I have come to fulfill the Law and hence abolished the law, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law that I am ending. And since I have fulfilled the Law, anyone who ignores these commands and teaches others to do the same, will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

No one in their right mind could possibly say that this makes one iota of common sense or logic!

The Two Greatest Commandments
Loving God with all your heart, soul and might and loving your neighbor as yourself was quoted not only by Yeshua in the New Testament in Matthew 22:40, but is also found in the Old Testament. (See Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18) Yeshua was actually quoting the Old Testament scriptures as he quite frequently did because when Yeshua and the apostles walked the earth, THERE WAS NO NEW TESTAMENT!

Does ALL the Law hang on these two Commandments even if they were first quoted in the Old Testament? Deuteronomy 6:5 actually proves this stating that to love God with all your heart, soul and might is to keep every one of the Ten Commandments that had just been read 17 verses earlier!

The first four commandments relates to our relationship with God, while the last six commandments relates to our relationship with our neighbor. Yeshua did not destroy any of these ten magnificent rules of love or any other commandment of God.

If we love God with all our heart, soul and might, will we have other gods before Him, worship idols, take His name in vain, or deny God the quality time of praise and worship He desires from us on His Sabbath? No!

When Israel was given the Law at Mount Sinai, it was not just for the people of God, but it also applied to the mixed nation from Egypt. (See Exodus 12:37-38 and Num. 15:15-16)

So what has changed? Absolutely nothing!

“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!” (Romans 6:15)

“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, ‘You shall not commit adultery’, also said, ‘You shall not murder.’ If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.” (James 2: 10-11)
Strong’s defines Law as “teaching” occurring 219 times in 213 verses. So what does the Law teach us? It teaches us that although the Law is good, we are sinful. But God, in His mercy and grace, delivers us through Yeshua our Messiah and Lord! (Rom 7:1-25)

World population as of 2014 is 7.2 billion and growing. Out of that, there are a total of over 3 billion churches. There is no official directory for all the congregations in the county, because sociologists of religion have to rely on statistical estimates from surveys. These are often disputed, and to complicate matters even more, thousands of new churches open each year while thousands of others close. The Hartford Institute estimates there are roughly 350,000 religious congregations in the United States with millions of members in each congregation.

So if we are all members of the “Body of Christ” why is there so much disagreement between different congregations?

Several hundred years ago in many countries there was only one church that was tolerated. But when people began to immigrate to the United States, they were free to bring their own religious beliefs and practices with them—and they did. Many of our major denominations trace their beginnings back to their European roots—Lutherans from Scandinavia, for example, or Presbyterians from Scotland.
In spite of the differences in religious practices, all Christians should agree on the central truths of the Gospel:
• That we are all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness.
• That Jesus was born in the flesh, was crucified, died for our sins and was resurrected after three days.
• If we confess our sins God will forgive us of our sins and give us eternal life.

What do you believe?
Beyond these core beliefs, most Christians believe in one God that exists in three persons—the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. They believe that Jesus Christ walked this earth, fully God, and yet fully man and after his death he was buried, rose again and now lives at the right hand of the Father, making intercession for the believers forever. They believe that in order to be saved and be granted entrance into heaven after death, one must place one’s faith entirely in this doctrine.

Many Christians from mainstream Christianity consider denominations with non-Trinitarian beliefs to be cults and will not inherit eternal life in heaven; but are condemned to the everlasting fires of hell. But is this really biblically factual?

I have had many stimulating conversations with Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons as well as other Christians. I have to say that most of their doctrinal beliefs are based on Scripture. But the ones that aren’t, do not condemn them either.

In Acts 15 we read that while Paul and Barnabas were in Syria, some men from Judea arrived and began to teach the Gentile believers that unless they were circumcised they couldn’t be saved. The church sent them to Jerusalem to meet together with the other apostles to resolve this issue. At the meeting, after a long discussion, Peter stood and addressed them as follows: “Brothers, you all know that God chose me from among you some time ago to preach to the Gentiles so that they could hear the Good News and believe. God knows people’s hearts, and he confirmed that he accepts Gentiles by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he cleansed their hearts through faith. So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.” In the end they concluded, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to lay no greater burden on the Gentiles than to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from consuming blood or the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. Isn’t it interesting that neither Paul nor any of the apostles mentioned observing God’s feast days, keeping Kosher, or even mentioned the Trinity doctrine as a condition for salvation?

Again we read in Acts 16:25-31, that after an earthquake had released Paul and Silas from jail, the jailer rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Again, there was no mention of following doctrinal beliefs in order to be saved. He only said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

We need to keep in mind that God’s plan for His Church was to bring unity to His followers—while denominations, by their very design, brings division and dissension.

If we are truly “One Body in Christ” then we should put away division and  judgment and focus on what’s really important—that we are all sinners in need of God’s forgiveness.

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. (1Cor. 12:12)

For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. (Rom 12:3-5)

Many Christians today believe they will be taken up from Earth in a secret rapture while the unsaved world suffers the wrath of God during what some Bible scholars refer to as Jacob’s Trouble.

Well, if you are one of those who believe in the rapture theory, then I urge you to prayerfully study the Scriptures. Because there are going to be many Christians who place their faith in this ‘secret rapture’ who may not be prepared for what is coming upon God’s people.

Friend, I urge you to get ready. Prepare your heart and mind for a time of trouble like never before. I am not here to scare you or to cause you any anxiousness, but to give you the truth from the Word of God about a Great Tribulation that is coming upon the whole earth.

Jesus confirmed himself that there would be great times of trouble for the church. “…For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” (Matthew 24:21-22)

Remember Jesus was speaking to his followers and NOT unbelievers! Jesus gave this statement after prophesying about the destruction of Jerusalem, which happened in 70 AD. The saints endured horrendous persecution after this, and between 538 and 1798, the Roman Catholic Church slaughtered over 50 million Christians! Now did God take these saints out of this tribulation? No, He kept them THROUGH it. Many of the saints who were burned at the stake were filled with the peace of God, and even sang hymns while it was happening because they felt God’s presence so strong through it.

If God did not take His people out of these times of trouble, what makes you think He is going to take you out of the tribulation to come? Why would He allow His people of old to give their lives for their faith in God, but spare you from the same?

We live in a time when most people are content to get their knowledge of religion from T.V specials, novels and greeting cards. But you cannot afford to neglect your personal responsibility to prove the truth!
The rapture doctrine was made even more popular in the 1970s by Hal Lindsey’s writings (The Late Great Planet Earth, etc.) and more recently by Jim Jenkins and Tim LaHaye in their Left Behind fictional books and films. But where did the idea of the rapture originate?

Credit for its origin generally goes to John Nelson Darby, a 19th-century theologian. There were some in Darby’s day called amillennialists that didn’t believe that the Kingdom of God is coming to Earth at all. He labored to correct these false teachings. Darby believed, rightly, that Jesus Christ would return to establish and rule over the Kingdom of God here on Earth. But in his zeal for countering the amillennialists error, Darby added an error just as bad—the rapture theory. He believed he understood a new truth, an idea that had not been taught in the history of Christendom. While he was most likely sincere, sincerity alone does not make one right. “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20)

Darby’s pre-tribulation view of the rapture was then picked up by a man named C.I. Scofield, who taught the rapture view in the footnotes of his Scofield Reference Bible. Many who read the Scofield Reference Bible accepted what its footnotes said as biblical truth and adopted the rapture doctrine even though no Christian had heard of it in the previous 1800 years of Church history!

Many Christians today use 1 Thess. 4:16-17 as proof of the rapture doctrine: “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

But which trumpet is Paul referring to? Because in 1Cor. 15:52 he writes: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the LAST TRUMP: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (Emphasis mine)

The apostle John wrote in Revelation 11:15 that the seventh trumpet was the last one that was sounded: “The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” So we should read what happened to the Church during the other six trumpets.

Unfortunately, God is not going to allow us to hear any warning trumpets sound before the end of the age. But if we are wise we can know when the time is close.

A doctor cannot know the exact date of an infant’s arrival but by watching the mother, the doctor can predict an approximate time of delivery. Meteorologists cannot know the exact time a hurricane will make landfall or when a tornado will appear, but by watching the weather patterns they can forecast an approximate time and warn people to take cover.

Mat 24:37-39 warns us that just “as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.” Again, I remind you that Jesus was speaking to his followers.
So is it possible that we are not only living in the Last Days but are actually living in the beginning of the Great Tribulation?

When I see how utterly sinful the world has become, when I see how corrupt government agencies and world leaders have become, when I see how children are being abused, killed and thrown away like garbage and when I see the rise of terrorist groups around the world who use beheadings as a way to instill fear in its victims while the world (and the Church) sit passively by eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, I wonder if we are.

While so many people are being tortured and killed for their faith, do you think that you’re so much better than they are? Do you think that they will die but you will be raptured away? Remember Paul teaches us in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 to: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.”

What would cause so many Christians to fall away from God? Could it be because so many put their faith in a secret rapture that turned out not to be true?

I believe that many professing Christians will be tested during the Tribulation to see whether they have true faith. Take a look at Revelation 12 and 13: It tells us all about the persecution of God’s people right up to the very end times.

Friend, don’t believe the false teaching of the rapture! We must be ready to give our life for Jesus! Remember that ALL who live godly lives will suffer persecution! (2 Timothy 3:12)

But also know that if we trust Him, God will give us the strength and the grace we need to keep us through whatever the world throws at us.

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matt. 10:28)

This has nothing to do with those outside the Church. This is only directed at those inside the Church-those who profess to be followers of Jesus.

 
A pastor by the name of John Pavlovitz recently wrote an article on his blog entitled, “If I Have Gay Children: Four Promises From A Christian Pastor/Parent”.  http://johnpavlovitz.com/2014/09/17/if-i-have-gay-children-four-promises-from-a-christian-pastorparent/

In the article he suggests that as Christian parents, we should accept our homosexual children as “okay”. This is what is wrong with the PC church today! If my kids told me that they thought that they were gay- yes, I would still love them as I always will, no matter what. But I would be honest and tell them that it is sin. I would pray for my children as they struggled with this, but I would NEVER accept it as being okay any more than I would accept adultery, lust or pedophilia as okay. That not only goes against God’s Law, but would give my children a false sense of salvation!

One cannot live as an unrepentant homosexual and be a follower of Jesus any more than an unrepentant pedophile can. Many have been taught that repentance means to “turn from sin”. Others believe that repentance means to be “sorry for your sins”. But neither is completely accurate. The full biblical definition of repentance is to change our heart and mind about sin that results in a change of action.

Repentance and faith are very closely related. Trying to separate the two is like trying to separate water and oil.  It is impossible to place your faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior without first changing your mind about who he is and what he has done. Whether it is repentance from willful rejection or repentance from ignorance, it is still a change of heart and mind. Biblical repentance, in relation to salvation, is changing your mind from rejecting God and His commandments to faith in Jesus our Messiah.

Sexual sin has become rampant in our world and is glorified in movies and television. Sadly, the Church is not immune from its temptations. But  Jesus and the apostles were never politically correct when it came to addressing sin in the Church. Read how the Apostle Paul dealt with sexual sin within the Church: “I can hardly believe the report about the sexual immorality going on among you—something that even pagans don’t do. I am told that a man in your church is living in sin with his stepmother… It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.” (1Cor. 5:1; 12-13 NLT) As Christians, our lives should be a reflection of Jesus himself. And with so many in the world watching us we should be even more careful to watch what we’re doing.

 

“When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living?” (Isaiah 8:19)

Some argue that 1 Samuel 28 is proof that there was an occasion where God allowed a medium to contact the dead for a word from God and thereby contradicting God’s own law.

A wicked King Saul finds that he is no longer hearing from God. So he, who had earlier killed many of the mediums and spiritists, contacts the witch at Endor and asks her to raise the recently deceased prophet Samuel from the dead. But the witch, fearing that this is a trap by Saul, at first refuses. But Saul swears an oath to the Lord that she will not be harmed. She succeeds in raising the dead prophet and shrieks when the spirit of Samuel actually appears and begins speaking to her. Samuel expresses annoyance at being disturbed and reiterates his own prophetic announcements that Saul has been rejected and that the kingdom has been transferred to David, as far as God is concerned.

It is important that to note that the king never saw or heard the prophet Samuel himself, but relied upon the witch to translate to him what she saw and heard:
The king said to her, “What do you see?” The woman said, “I see a ghostly figure coming up out of the earth.” “What does he look like?” he asked. “An old man wearing a robe is coming up,” she said. Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. (1Sam 28:13-14)

The rest of 1 Samuel 28 is actually the conversation between the witch and Saul as the witch translated; not directly between Samuel and Saul. Similar to how mediums today speak to the dead on behalf of their living loved ones.
It’s true that God allowed the witch of Endor to communicate with Samuel. However, this is not an indication of God’s approval of occultism. Rather, it was permitted by God as part of the process of pronouncing judgment against Saul and stripping him of his rule.Saul receives no words of comfort and no blessing. Within a very short while he will be dead on Mt. Gilboa and David will be king.Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance instead of the Lord. And he paid for his mistake with his life. (1 Chronicles 10:13-14)

Other supporters of spiritism cite Jesus’ parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man in Luke 16, which portrays a conversation between two people in the afterlife-Abraham in glory and the Rich Man in hades, as proof that conversations with the dead are sanctioned by God. But the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man is just that-A PARABLE! When the Rich Man pleads that Abraham allow Lazarus to go back among the living and warn his brothers, Abraham refuses because… ”They have Moses and the prophets…let them listen to them.”

Now, even knowing the truth from the Scriptures warning us not to have anything to do with mediums or speaking to the dead, some may still wonder how something that gives people hope and sets their hearts and minds at peace could be harmful.

Because it gives people a false peace and a false hope: A false peace that their loved one, (who may or may not be saved) is in a better place. Similarly, it will also give false hope that regardless of how they live; they too will end up in a better place when they die.

If our loved ones constantly watch over us from heaven when they die, then can they also see the sins and short-comings of those they love on earth? Will they have to helplessly watch as their relatives are beaten, shot and raped? Will they have to watch them die without Jesus? How can they enjoy their eternity while they witness such things?

I know this may upset some people reading this, but other than Elijah and Enoch, the Bible does not even hint that there is anyone else living in heaven except God, Jesus and the angels. Every description of heaven seems to focus only on God and his throne.

It is only natural that we, with our earthbound self-centered perspective, would prefer to comfort ourselves by believing that we can still communicate with loved ones who have since passed away. My own son was killed in an auto accident nearly 18 years ago. I too would love to be able to talk with him and share with him all that God has done for me since he died; but that is impossible; because my son is dead and I won’t see him again until the Resurrection. You see, as a Bible believing Christian, I have God’s promise that one day I will be reunited with my son again!

“But your dead will live, LORD; their bodies will rise– let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy– your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.” (Isaiah 26:19)

“Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel.” (Ezekiel 37:12)

“Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Daniel 12:2)

And anyone who has surrendered their lives to Jesus has these same promises from God.

Whether we are alive or dead at the Resurrection, the time we spend waiting for that Day will seem like but a moment compared to eternity!

So if you haven’t already done so, repent of your sins and ask God to forgive you and surrender your life to Him. Please do it now!

While there’s still time:

“It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.” (1Cor. 15:52)