paul m hanssen
CHURCH-AGE TRENDS OR AGE-OLD GODLINESS - WHICH ONE? by Gwen D Hanssen
Updated: Aug 7, 2021
CHURCH-AGE TRENDS OR AGE-OLD GODLINESS – WHICH ONE? by Gwen D Hanssen
The enemy is always looking for ways to confuse believers in order to cause us to dilute our beliefs. If our foe can find even the tiniest crack in the door, he will use the opportunity to mix Truth with error, whilst whispering into the believer’s ear,“ Just be openminded.” The damage done when Satan presents himself as an angel of light is far greater than when he comes as a roaring lion.
In listening to his poisonous, twisted whispers and lies, the present-day church world tries to be ‘open-minded’ in order to not appear pharisaical, and hence be able to relate to our present generation or culture. The Church does this by lowering standards and acting like or mimicking the world, rather than doing as our Savior did who reached down and ministered to those who were in sin, all the while never embracing their culture and trend. He showed us how to love the world, whilst transcending the culture of the day. He most definitely loved the world, but He never became spotted by it. Sadly, we have become culture obsessed with trends. So much so that we have forgotten about self-denial and self-sacrifice.
As the End-Time Church, we are facing moral degradation of epic proportions. The growing acceptance of gay marriage, abortion, premarital sex, living together, and immorality in our pews and in our pulpits is appalling. While we don’t yet applaud it in American Christianity, it certainly is not dealt with as it once was. As I wrote in a previous article, John Wesley once penned, “What one generation tolerates, the next will embrace.” Wow, he saw that one coming! Exactly, Mr. Wesley, exactly!
America has forsaken the Judeo-Christian ethic. The new morality—open-mindedness—is leading to bondage on every front. We are so concerned about not being cool that we allow spiritual cancers on our platforms. We are turning from Truth to what works in and for the present-day church world. There is an idea out there that if it works, then it must be of God, right? The answer would be a huge, resounding, NO! We are instructed throughout the Word that we are to condemn the spirit of the age and not join ourselves to it. Of course, people are going to flock to ‘feel-good’ and ‘seeker-friendly’ Christianity. But, where is the power, where is the change, and quite frankly what is the point? I do not go to church for a coffee and a donut. I go to meet with my Savior, to honor Him, and to get a spiritual shot in my arm in order that I may carry on in my spiritual journey. I go to grow, to learn, and to lay at His feet; not to be relaxed at a coffee house. Jesus, help us! What have we become?!
Should we be shocked that this is happening right before the Lord’s soon return? I think not. The Old Testament is filled with examples of leaders who blended idols and idolatry with worship of the one, true living God. In this generation, we need voices of dissent. We need more prophets, leaders, teachers and pastors in this last and final generation who are emboldened by the Spirit of God and who are not afraid to suffer the rejection that will be hurled at them because of sounding the alarm to call God’s people back to their senses. We need more like the prophets of old who were not afraid to say, “You can’t mix Truth with error and come up with pure Truth.” It will only lead to heresy, and error, at best. Yes, we will be hated. Yes, we will be misunderstood. Yes, we will be called fanatical, religious, pharisaical and accused of not displaying any love. But, is it a mark of honor to be called any of the above for His great Name’s sake? That would be a great big resounding, ‘YES!’
Why is this happening? It is due to a failure of sound teaching from the pulpits of our land. We are so concerned about people feeling good, having better personal relationships, ‘loving’ everybody, and being ‘happy’, so much so that we’ve forgotten that if a person is not living right with God, this is all a moot point. Without Spirit and Truth, then all we have is psychology in the Church, cool power points, and videos, but no power to live as God intended.
We can go to church week after week, live the average Christian life, sing our songs in worship, listen to a decent sermon, and maybe even feel a goose bump or two; but with no dying to self, no pressing on, no laying aside the flesh and the world, then my question is, why even bother? Where are the results that sweep across this land and change the culture, bring in revival, and give evidence of repentance? Isn’t this what walking the Christian journey is all about? Is it not about changing and dying to our old carnal nature in hopes that we will one day stand before Him and hear Him say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant enter into the joy of the Lord?” I cannot imagine that we will hear a “well done” from the Almighty if we are finding excuses to live in sin and promote our carnality.
At the end, when we stand before God, how much of what we have done will benefit us eternally? The cool, trendy, Christian T-shirts and skinny jeans will be gone. The causes that we have put so much time and energy into will be long gone. Will all of these things stand the fire test? Will it all be wood, hay, and stubble or gold, silver, and precious stone? (I Corinthians 3: 11-15)
I just need to ask, are we falling into the ‘bigger is better’, follow the crowd, be the cute and popular Christian, follow the latest Christian YouTube sensation, find the new Christian hip band or are we seeking and pursuing the face and presence of God in our personal lives and in our gatherings? Where is the seasoning? Where is the discernment? Where is the maturity in decision making? Where is the coming out from among them and being separate as His Word commands? (II Corinthians 6:17)
I am so sad to say that we’ve lost discernment. We’ve lost purity. Thus, we’ve lost power. We don’t need gimmicks, we need Godliness. We don’t need smoke, lights and mirrors, we need the Spirit of God. The true Spirit! Not this ‘strange fire’ that is popping up everywhere and spreading like a forest fire with a fine breeze blowing on it. I’m talking about the true Holy Ghost and Fire! You cannot have that without sacrifice! Without a sacrifice on the altar, there can be no fire. There will be nothing for the flames to light on. I see a lot of people rubbing sticks together, as it were, to try and produce a fire, but it is false. We need extreme discernment in these last days.
Just because it looks good doesn’t mean it is good. God told Isaiah that He hated all the new moons, Sabbaths, and solemn assemblies where men didn’t worship God in Spirit and in Truth. I’m just posing a question. Could it be that God hates our “events” that do not honor the Lord in Spirit and in Truth? We raise Christian speakers to rock-star status, we listen to Christian artists with their breathy tones and new-age lyrics in place of seeking out the living Word of God to see if these things that they are feeding into our souls be so. Sorry to say, some aren’t even clear on the Gospel or their stance on the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. The Gospel is full of instruction on how to change, how to die to self and how we are to be clearly different and set-apart from the world. This is not Old Testament as some of the new, cool, Christians would like to propagate. These are New Testament principles of living.
My continual plea is this: let’s learn to discern. Don’t swallow something hook, line, and sinker just because it’s the new Christian norm. If we are going to put the name of Jesus on it, let’s make sure it’s about Jesus. Let’s settle in our hearts that a person who has strong convictions about Truth will be considered a trouble-maker in this present-day climate. Those who have deep convictions will be labeled as uncooperative, not having any love and even become an embarrassment if they don’t jump on the bandwagon of modern-day Christianity. Let’s learn that having all the hype in the world and being the one to jump the highest in doing our little dance at church is not spirituality. It’s not in the jump, per se. It’s how straight we walk daily when we land. This is Spirit and Truth in balance.
The test is this: Where are you going? If I follow your path and your teaching, will I end up at the Cross or in another Christian club? Too many who say they are broadminded are actually shallow. The gate that leads to destruction is wide; the gate that leads to and promotes Truth is extremely narrow. The door that leads to error has no lock on it. Let’s test the spirits and make sure that we are not following those who have the theological depth of an earthworm and a gate as wide as the Arch of St. Louis (also known as the gateway to the West).
I recently heard it said that, “The trend today is toward the homogenization of mankind into one faceless mass. Light would have communion with darkness, righteousness with unrighteousness, believers with infidels, and the temple of God with idols; we would establish concord between Christ and Baal.” I could not agree more! This is transpiring right before our very eyes.
I realize that I’m out of step with today’s popular belief system. I will never be popular; been there, done that - it’s empty. I realize the way that we believe in embracing the Old Path is not understood or well received by the majority. That’s okay. I can live with that and not lose a moment’s sleep. What I cannot live with is a generation that is growing up not knowing the difference between Truth, half-truth and error. It is grievous to watch the tentacles of deception grow as they wrap around undiscerning hearts and minds.
It is my prayer to always remain alert and on the watchtower in order to be able to discern when predators are at the door. I’m not on a witch hunt. I just want to stand on the right side of this issue. There is a diluted gospel that is being preached, peddled and embraced. The only protection against this trend is for leaders to speak up, stand up, say no, draw lines, and dare to be the one who does not fit with the crowd. It is absolutely heartbreaking to see the Gospel being watered down in order to try and be cool and stay “in the loop.” Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on us!!
-Pastor Gwen D Hanssen