Being the Church vs. “Having Church”

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9–12 ESV) 

 I am convinced that the pursuit of spiritual experiences over and above genuine sanctification wrought by God’s Spirit and based on the person and work of Jesus Christ is a deceptive pursuit that could lead to serious error. I am not saying that there are not valid manifestations of God’s supernatural power in and through His Church. I believe wholeheartedly that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today and that they should be in operation in the lives of believers and in our churches. What I am saying is to beware of any preacher or so-called Christian who is all about “manifestations” but not about God’s holy character and the fruit of His Spirit. I would also beware of those who are not focused and centered on Jesus Christ and His gospel. If you are having good “church” but you are not being conformed to the image of Christ the Creator by the inner working of the Holy Spirit and if you are not grounded in the truth of the Scriptures, you might not be a genuine believer and you need to examine yourself to see whether or not you are in the faith.

There is genuine proof that someone has been saved by God’s grace. Things like REPENTANCE FROM SIN, FAITH TOWARDS GOD, REGENERATION, BAPTISM, NEW LIFE, NEW DESIRES, & SUBMISSION TO THE AUTHORITY OF THE LOCAL CHURCH to name just a few. In the midst of all of the hoopla we must be sure that there is godly character and true growth in the faith. I have noticed as a pastor that people will pack out a room and fill the seats for great experiences but as soon as its time to have the bright light of biblical discipleship shine in their souls they are running for the door! It is not our job to try to separate the wheat from the tares. However I do believe that we should conduct ourselves in such a manner that would make it extremely hard for impostors to dwell comfortably in our midst. The Scriptures validate the gifts and manifestations of God’s Spirit and we should earnestly pursue them. The Scriptures also teach us of the reality of lying signs and wonders and the need for strong discernment. We are living in a pagan culture and spirituality is widespread. That is why it is of the utmost importance that we realize that someone can be “spiritual” and still go to hell…manifestations and all.

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