In my last post, I was talking about the Azusa Now event the recently occurred down in southern California and the acquaintance/friend of mine that spoke favorably of it. In this person’s estimation it was an exciting testimony to the widespread anticipated explosion of revival that many believe is soon about to occur in America. That all sounds wonderful and just might give you goosebumps, except for the detail that the folks leading this “movement” are literally willing to disregard the doctrine of Scripture for the sake of unity among different religions; namely Roman Catholic and Protestant (though my friend who attended also indicated that “all faiths” were represented there). I mentioned in my last post how one of the leaders at this event publicly told the 100,000 people in attendance that Jesus doesn’t care that Christians and Catholics disagree on doctrine! They may call it Azusa now, but I would dare call it Apostasy Now!
I also talked about how both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are really part of the same religious bloodline (as are virtually every Christian denomination in existence today because they all hail from a “protesting” ideology. Like Luther, they reject some of the legalism and doctrine of Mother Rome, but they have held on to much of the rest and merely “Christianized” its elements for the Christ-follower’s consumption. This is NOT how true followers of Jesus identify themselves. The identity of a true Believer is found in Christ Jesus alone and has no concern for trying to fit within the legalistic boundaries that other religions sets forth as essential, by re-labeling or adjusting those practices so that they appear “Christian”. Neither does the Gospel of Jesus afford that the doctrine of Christ is secondary to a so-called “vision of unity” among all faiths. This is a grand deception, but one that has been at work for many long years and we are now starting to see it emerge more publicly and more widespread than every before.
There is this image in many Christians’ minds that there has been this huge divide between Protestants and Catholics. Now we are seeing famous religious leaders proclaim that God is restoring unity between the two camps. But those who are not ignorant of the origin of the Protestant movement, understand that the two have always been related to each other (and in fact one literally was produced from the other). When you understand this fact, it becomes easy to see that this proclaimed “unity” (or re-uniting) is nothing more than a smoke screen to a devious delusion that has been in the works from the very beginning. Many Christians who do not describe themselves as “Catholic” have long thought their religious identification was perhaps best described by the term “Protestant”. In other words, if you’re not a Catholic, you’re a Protestant. But there is a massive problem with this concept, namely that does not come from Christ and cannot be found anywhere in Scripture. Nor is it the least bit representative of true Christianity.
If you have an entire collection of church-attending people that identify themselves as “Protestants” (whether in name or theologically), that means they are essentially identifying themselves by protest of another denomination (and how that man-made religious group dictates you must relate to God). Think about that for a moment… How does such a label agree with biblical Christianity? According to the Gospel of the Bible, the Christian man is one who is born into the Kingdom of God by faith in Christ – even made a completely NEW creature in Him (as the Scripture teaches). What evidence is there from Scripture that any of Jesus’ followers ever identified themselves according to protest of some other religion? Baptism in water is just one example of the mindset that possessed early Christians during the first century upon their conversion to Jesus; the concept of washing away sin and the past (i.e. making a response to God from a cleansed conscience, demonstrating a decision to turn away from the old life and walk in the Way of Christ, as 1 Peter 3:21 talks about). Baptism symbolizes death and resurrection with Christ, submission to Christ as our new Master, and becoming fully immersed into a whole new life in Him. What an incredible picture of our adoption into the Family of God and relationship with Christ!
It has well been said that a good definition of Protestantism is Christians who split from Catholicism because they wanted more control over religion. They never really left religion. In fact, they never fully left Catholicism. They just took the reigns unto themselves… I think they should have been more concerned with leaving behind man’s religious inventions altogether and giving up the reigns to God completely.
If one identifies themselves by protest of another religion, they are inadvertently admitting that they are actually the offspring of that other religion. By comparing themselves to the other religious group that they disagree with, they are actually legitimizing the other group’s significance as it relates to their own identity. It’s like saying, “You might be my mom, but I reject you being the boss of me and the things you say are important I no longer agree with.” While you might be protesting mother, you’re still acknowledging yourself as her offspring. But as members of the Family of God we are NOT born into His kingdom by protest of another religion. We are born into His kingdom by the power of God almighty Himself.
Friend, I will never again identify myself by protest. I am NOT a “Protestant”! I have nothing in common with a Protestant (except that I came out from among them and acknowledge that Christ calls them to come out as well)! The Lord Jesus has called us out of darkness into His marvelous Light! He washed me clean with His blood, set me completely free and made me a member of His Family! He is the only Way, the Truth and the Life. My identity is found only in Him… not based upon my choice to protest another religious group. I could care less about any other group and how they choose to practice some form of religion; which is only man’s method of controlling behavior and regulating faith according to his own comforts and wisdom. I’m very interested in what GOD has to say about me and my relationship to His family, and I care not what the world (even the church world) has to say about any of that! Protestantism be damned! Let the Protestants and Catholics unite if they want… for I have no part with either! I am a member of another Kingdom entirely. One that is not of this world and one that does not need to be legitimized by any construct of religious man.
When you regard the connection between Protestant and Catholic (and understand they are both servants of the same ungodly master), for this ceremony of uniting to occur at the Azusa Now conference, it is not really that much of a surprise if you are a Christ-follower that has some level of discernment. It is merely an outward manifestation of inward corruption that has long existed, but which many Christians have been blind to. Yet even now, this public embrace between both religious camps has not caused many Christians to open their eyes. Instead, like the person I told you about that told me of their trip to the conference, they see this as a wonderful sign of revival. The complete watering down of doctrinal truth that has been occurring in the “Protestant” churches for decades (and even centuries) has only prepared them to once again “return to the fold” (i.e. the Roman Catholic faith) and this is exactly what the Roman Catholic Church has had in mind, even since the Reformation of Luther occurred. They are succeeding!
But it’s not just a union with Roman Catholicism… Many other concepts of New Age mysticism and even Occult ideologies are fusing in with this modern “apostolic reformation” and renewal movement. We have the leader of Bethel Church in Redding California, endorsing (and selling from the church website) books that teach Christians that New Age practices are actually godly and permissible, but that have simply been corrupted by the world and need to be recovered for Christ. Psychic tactics of cold reading and divination are flooding into churches with new “Christian” labels to make them palatable for Believers. All of this is wrapped up in terminology that sounds Christian but is not at all from Christ. Instead it is full of flesh and the demonic.
I do want to add one minor disclaimer here… Please understand that my blanket-coated statement concerning Protestantism as being the proverbial step child of the Roman Catholic Church (and a den of New Age doctrine), is NOT to say that there are not some true Christ followers in the midst. Nor is it to say that every group of Christ-followers who gather in a building to pray and sing and study Scripture are some kind of heretics… In fact, it may very well be that Luther himself had a genuine awakening on some level, but failed to yield fully to Christ. I’m not talking about the exceptions here among individuals. I’m talking about the whole system itself, which is utterly bathed in error and pulsing with deceptive appeal. There are likely genuine Christians who are presently caught up in the middle of the chaos and I believe that many are sensing the Lord dealing in their life, but perhaps all of the “lights” have not come on just yet, though they are beginning to see. Some are seeing the truth and are overwhelmed and not sure how to respond. Many are crying out to God to give them wisdom, courage and discernment. Some know the truth, but don’t know how to apply it and are vexed because everything they’ve known and trusted is being turned on end and exposed. I am reminded of two passages of Scripture here:
2 Corinthians 6:15-18 – Is Christ a friend of Satan? Can people who follow the Lord have anything in common with those who don’t? Do idols belong in the temple of God? We are the temple of the living God, as God himself says, “I will live with these people and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” The Lord also says, “Leave them and stay away! Don’t touch anything that isn’t clean. Then I will welcome you and be your Father. You will be my sons and my daughters, as surely as I am God, the All-Powerful.”
Revelation 18:4-5 – Then I heard another voice calling from heaven, “Come away from her (the harlot church), My people. Do not take part in her sins, or you will be punished with her. For her sins are piled as high as heaven, and God remembers her evil deeds.
We see that God calls to His own people to come away and come out from among them. I pray that many will hear and heed this call. I know that God is waiting and ready to speak to every one who listens. He already is opening the spiritual ears of so many and they are starting to recognize His voice. Maybe you reading this are one of them. Believe me, I understand how hard it can be to face the realization that so much of what you have been involved in for a good portion of your life regarding “church world” is not what the Lord ever intended for His people. In fact, it can be terrifying because it makes you wonder what else you’ve gotten wrong and then trying to find out how to make sense of everything and know what to do next can be quite a lot to process all at once. My advice is don’t (i.e. don’t try to process it all at once). Lean heavily on the Lord. Talk to Him and spend lots of time listening. If you, like me, are one that had gotten used to the convenience of many other religious voices telling you what “God was saying” for so long, then it’s going to take some time to re-learn how to listen and hear His voice again FOR REAL! Many of us spent years feeding a habit of the old way of thinking and doing. It would be foolish to think things will transform overnight. Of course, God can work miracles, but often times learning to wait and listen and to recognize His voice isn’t something He just flips the switch for us instantaneously. When we’ve trained ourselves to consistently listen to just about every voice except purely His, we need to invest time in the nurture of our relationship with Him alone. The good news is, God is faithful and that’s not just a cliche! He won’t leave you alone and He will faithfully lead you.
There is more on this I wish to share and I’ll save that for Part 3, coming soon…