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Friday, July 9th 2010

12:09 PM

"A Remnant Report"

by Pastor Bruce Sikes

 

"Divorced from the Church? How Apostasy is Scattering the Sheep" . This was the striking title of a presentation given at what was actually a “Remnant" conference held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The main speakers were Dr. Gary Frazier of Tim LaHaye’s “Left Behind" seminars,  Eric Barger an author and leading Christian Apologist and conference organizer Jan Markell.

I cannot begin to tell you how encouraging it was for me to attend the conference called, "Hope in a World of Troubling Change".  It was ripe with scripture studies, insights and information on the state of the Church and our world. Way too much information to share here!

(The full text of what was presented, and more, can be found in the books and ministry web sites listed below. You can also obtain the dvd's of the conference as well. Well worth the investment!)

That being said,  I do want to share with you some highlights from the conference, in particular the session above given by Eric Barger.

Let me begin by saying that when the Lord moved me to start The Voice Of The Remnant ministry, I found myself heading into unchartered territory.  I stepped out in faith, recognizing that something bigger than me and my own small sphere of ministry was going on. I did not consult other like-minded ministers or ministries. I didn't even know Eric Barger or other similar ministries existed. I just immersed myself in scripture and prayer and laid out as best I could a ministry to faithful believers who were being stirred in their spirits about the state of the Church and the times in which we live. You can imagine how delighted I was to find other similar ministries, each with somewhat different focuses, but all seeing the same God-given picture that I was seeing. Believers saying and writing the same things without even knowing each other.

It is too much of a coincidence to be anything but a movement of God. God works that way. Just as the Sheep recognize the Shepherd's voice, the Sheep recognize each others'.

Before giving the report, I want to say again what is repeatedly stated on The Voice Of The Remnant web site. This is not an anti-church movement, on the contrary, it is God calling forth faithful believers to contend for the faith against the growing spirit of deception and to help awaken and prepare the Bride of Christ for His return. That being said, in reality the Remnant is not being called to do anything that God is not calling all believers to do!

The following is not a transcript, but are my personal notes from the conference and Eric Barger's presentation, "Divorced from Church.”  To start with, "church" as used in the title is to be understood as our human organizations of church, which may or may not be part of "The Church", which is the body of Christ composed of His faithful believers.  In this larger true sense, the Church is One, always has been, always will be, we are either part of it or not. Yet, we are warned in the scriptures about false brothers and false prophets. We also have the letters from Christ to the seven churches as listed in Revelation. Many of these churches did not fare well in Jesus' report.

Remember, this is a report on Eric's presentation and are not my statements. I must say however, as he was presenting them I found myself in so much agreement with him, that I was answering his questions before he asked them! Perhaps you will experience the same as you read his points.

To begin, Eric drew our attention to scriptures such as in 2 Timothy 3 which warn the church of the deceit and apostasy of the last days.

 "...mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, ...lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them."

Apostasy is the turning away, the abandonment of the teaching and practices of God's Word and denying the reality of God's power. The Apostle Paul tells us to not associate ourselves with leaders/people who may appear to be Godly and Biblically sound, but are actually self-seeking, phony, and false.  Jesus Himself, also repeatedly warned us of the same.

As a guest on Jan Markell's Christian radio show a few months ago, Eric shared that they had asked listeners to call in and answer the question:

 "Have you ever had to leave a Church because  things were not right, such as unsound Biblical teaching and practices etc...?"

In 20-30 minutes, they received 62 responses.

From that 62 total, shockingly 47 said "Yes"!

Only 15 said "No", they had never had to leave and were in a Biblically sound church. We praise God for that but, ouch!

When a church engages in every passing fad, adopts program after program, when it seriously steps out of the Biblical pattern as shown to us in the scriptures into new man-made "purpose driven", "emergent", and "seeker" type models, when it is dominated by self-help, feel good messages, when it tolerates and or ignores certain sins,  when there is a systematic refusal to obey their own church constitution or rules of discipline, when it selectively preaches or no longer teaches the full Word of God, and/or teaches error, then "Yes!" it certainly may be time to leave, particularly as Jan Markell says, if God tells you to!  (My comment: This is where, in addition to biblical wisdom, discernment and prayer are extremely important because the devil is deceitful and we are often weak and lax to act.)

The Bible says to "Test everything. Hold on to the good." (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

The Bible and Jesus Himself repeated warn us of that the church will be subject to deception in the last days.

"For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect—if that were possible." (Mark 13:22)

Indeed, during the presentation, Eric made a point to urge everyone to pray for our pastors. The spirit of deception in these last days is so strong that as Jesus indicates, even the elect will be challenged by deception. There is tremendous peer pressure on pastors from some religious circles to adopt and buy into the newest and most popular church programs to obtain as many new members as possible. "Everybody else is doing it, why don't you?" Some have fully embraced these new ways of doing church and moved further and further away from God's word and the Biblical model of church. You can imagine the demonic attacks pastors are under, those who want to remain faithful and stand firm on the word of God in their churches. Eric says, (and so do I) that he personally knows pastors who have been fired or resigned because they could not go along with the direction the church was headed. We need to pray for and support those pastors who are rejecting falsehood and standing for the Truth.

Eric listed at least...

(5) Reactions/Responses of people in Biblically Unsound Churches:

1- Some moved their membership to a doctrinally sound church.

2- Some stayed, out of Biblical ignorance.

3- Others stayed because of familiar traditions, family, and friendships.

4- A few stayed to obtain or retain power, status and position in the church.

5- Some abandoned church all together...

Eric also reminded us of that old adage, "There are no perfect churches, and if you find one and join it, it won't be perfect anymore!" He stated that people leave churches for a variety of reasons and some are clearly wrong. Furthermore, he said we all know people who are never satisfied with anything; they are always in crisis mode - drama queens & kings! To make the point, he listed:

(6) Wrong Reasons To Leave A Church:

1- They changed the color of carpet in the nursery.

2- No one asked you your opinion on the new drapes in the sanctuary.

3- Someone brought  the wrong kind of toilet paper in the restrooms.

4- You were passed over again when the Deacons were elected, even though you spend all your time in the local tavern and don't see the need for tithing.

5- You are upset because they didn't hire your nephew to be youth pastor...even though he just recently started attending church and is still living with his girlfriend.

6- You were sure the pastor was preaching straight at you last Sunday! (Of course, the Lord may have been!)

As minor or downright silly some of these excuses are, people have left churches for these reasons and a whole lot more. No one should take this presentation merely as an excuse to leave a church. Yet, staying at a church where things are very wrong doctrinally and spiritually is quite a different story. What about those people who stay at Biblically unsound churches? What are their excuses?

Once again, Eric provided what I think is a very accurate assessment of the various states of people choosing to remain at churches which have left the sound Biblical pattern and embraced secular humanist models?

(6) Groups of people who chose to stay at a Biblically unsound church:     

1- Some know what is going on and they like it!

2- Some don't have a clue.

3- Others sense that something is wrong, but don't know what.

4- Some know what is wrong, but don't do or say anything about it. (Very sad!)

5- Some know what is wrong, but have given up. In reality, they have left, even though they still attend.

6- Still others know what is going on and have chosen to stay to speak up and work to change the direction of the church back to Christ and the Bible.

Of those in this last category, if God leads you to stay and work to bring correction, you can expect to be snubbed, ostracized, misunderstood and gossiped about (and I might add even unjustly disciplined.)  If you have children and teens, be advised, while you are working for correction, they are being influenced by what is going on. Could they be withering on the vine? For parents, the first duty is to protect and see that our children are raised up in the Lord. We do what we can to bring change and correction, but never at the expense of our family. 

Eric had much more to say and did a far better job than what I briefly presented here, so I strongly urge you to check the links below to his and Jan Markell's web sites.

Bottom-line, we live in a world of troubling change. The Church is being shaken, deception is running rampant and only what and who is true, faithful, strong, wise and discerning will stand. Christians can no longer afford to play church, as if they ever could. 

If history and the Bible have taught us anything, it has shown that from the ancient Hebrews, to the early and contemporary Church, the Lord's people have sometimes wandered from the path of God. The great Prophets of the Bible and Jesus Himself have warned us that there will be false prophets, preachers, teachers, and worldly churches. Jesus states;

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves." (Matthew 7:15)

"Jesus said to them: "Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am he,' and will deceive many" (Mark 13:5-6)

Jesus rebuked entire churches as well, such as the churches in Sardis and Ephesus as told in the book of Revelation:

 "I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die..." (Rev 3:1-2)

"...I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first..." (Revelation 2:4-5)

Proclaiming such a message today naturally puts the faithful at odds with secularized churches and the false religious leaders of our time. As a result, where ever God raises the Remnant, we can expect to face many similar challenges. Gladly, Jesus has told us in advance what will happen. We can take comfort in that God has a plan and is in control. What's more He will be with us every step of the way. We only need to trust and obey. We, YOU, are not alone!

For Christ and His Remnant,

Pastor Bruce Sikes

The Links....

(By the way, I do not make any money off the sale of these, nor have I consulted these ministries, I just truly want to get the word out. This is so important. Please support their good work!)

Conference audio CD's with the "Divorced from the Church?..." presentation:

http://www.olivetreeviews.org/cart/product.php?productid=84&cat=3&page=1

Conference DVD's with the "Divorced from the Church?..." presentation:

http://www.olivetreeviews.org/cart/product.php?productid=85&cat=3&page=1

Jan Markell's the conference host and her "Olive Tree Ministries" web site:

http://www.olivetreeviews.org/

Eric Barger's "Take A Stand Ministries":

http://www.ericbarger.com/

These ministry links and others are also on the http://VoiceOfTheRemnant.org  Links page.

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