The Man-Made Church
Alister Begg wrote “You can come up with a biblically-diluted concoction of music, drama, self-help principles, and marketing strategies that will be able to grow a large congregation without anybody ever really knowing what God has to say in the Bible.”
Aptly, this quote summarizes for us a major reason for the spiritual and doctrinal disintegration in many Evangelical churches. Their teachings have shifted from God-centeredness to man-centeredness.
Church leaders have decided to use their own methods of evangelism and preaching instead of the truth of the gospel found in God’s word. As a result, we now have professing Christians sitting in churches, praying, singing, and saying, “I love Jesus!”, but they do not even know who this Jesus is that they confess to love. It is like a man who confesses to love his wife but lacks any knowledge of her qualities and/or personality. They believe they love God, but that love is given to God only because He is a provider of health and wealth and not because He is their Sovereign Lord and Savior.
In many churches, knowing and loving God is not rooted in the studying, preaching and teaching of God’s Word but on an emotional response centred on self. Sermons that ought to produce true convictions of sin and repentance are instead focused on physical wellness and wealth.
I have encountered Pastors and church leaders that abhor the terms ‘theology’ and ‘doctrine’. They think it is enough just to love God without studying His word. But how can we know the God we claim to love without knowing what He has revealed to us in His word? How can we know God and His attributes without diligently studying and understanding what is in the Bible?
Sadly, these so-called churches keep their congregations in ignorance and spiritual blindness by not teaching and preaching the full counsel of God that is contained in the Bible. They believe they can manipulate the word of God to point into the direction of a message that will be easily accepted by many. This is in keeping with what Paul wrote, “For a time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
They will use every worldly resource available except the true preaching of the gospel in order to attract visitors and increase membership. They judge their greatness by the size of their membership and not by their actual spiritual condition of their eternal soul.
Their bad theology permeates both the preaching and the congregational worship. We have so called modern-day “worship songs” containing words that mirror a love song, primarily focused on us, but it does nothing for the glorification of God. John MacArthur refers to some of these songs as seven – eleven songs, meaning its seven words repeated eleven times over.
These songs attempt to manipulate those involved to have an “experience” which they claim is the work of the Holy Spirit. However, upon Biblical examination the response is emotional mixed with the hypnotic effect of the of constant repetition of feel-good terms.
The command of Scripture is to not feel better but “…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18). The Apostle Paul gives instruction on pursuing Christian maturity by deepening our knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ that will cause us to stand firm in the doctrines of the Bible and not allow us to be “tossed here and there by waves of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.” (Ephesians 4:14).
The Psalmist wrote “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalms 1:1-2)
As true Christians, we are to love “theology” and “doctrine” because as the Psalmist wrote, we are to delight ourselves in the reading and studying of the word of our Lord. To know and love God is to love His revelation of Himself from a regenerate heart.
In conclusion the man-made church is exactly what it is: a church made by man, with teachings created by man, for the glory of man and not for the glory of God. Sadly, the members of these churches will incur the judgement as spoken by our Lord, “Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles? And then I will declare to them ‘I never know you DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.” (Matthew 7:22-23).