by Matt Slick
My motivation for writing this section is twofold: First, there is a slow apostasy that is creeping into many so-called Christian denominations. Many groups that claim the name of Christ are advocating anti-Christian principles. Second, it seems that the majority of Christians are not adequately trained nor sufficiently motivated to carry out the Great Commission: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you . . . " (Matt. 28:19-20). To carry out this commission, Christians need to be disciples and disciple-makers. It means knowing basic Christian doctrine, knowing the Bible, and being able to defend the Christian faith.
I'm not saying that every Christian has to be seminary trained, memorize the New Testament, and stand on street corners shouting about Jesus. I am talking about the basic knowledge of God's Word as well as the basics of evangelism and doctrine that helps to lead us to do what Jesus charged us to do: make disciples.
When I teach seminars on cults, Christianity, and apologetic, I always take polls of the people I am teaching. I ask how many can quote me Scriptures defending the deity of Christ. Usually about two people in fifty respond. When asked to explain the difference between justification and sanctification, rarely can anyone tell me what it is. When I ask how many have shared their faith and presented the gospel with anyone in the past year, about one in five say they have. These are not baby Christians. These are "seasoned" Christians who've been in churches for years.
Apostasy means to fall away from the truth. To the degree that Christians adopt the ideas of the world above Scripture, they are committing apostasy. The world wants us to let things be, to adopt a policy of tolerance about other religions and ideas in contradiction to Scripture, and let the culture simply continue on its way towards increasing immorality and irreverence. Jesus has given us a commission to make disciples, and to do this means we have to be prepared and Bible-focused in a world that is hostile to Christianity. Carrying out the Great Commission means that we have to be praying, studying, tithing, learning, being trained, being active, supporting the church, supporting missionaries, etc. Some churches do this. Others do not. But, all should be evangelistic--not for church membership or church growth but for making people followers of Jesus.
The Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20) is the charge of Jesus to believers, to every believer, to be disciple makers. It is not aimed at just the pastor and the missionary. It is aimed at everyone in the church. But, perhaps you feel that you are not called to be a pastor, a missionary, or an evangelist--that just isn't your calling. That's okay. But, are you praying for those who are pastors, missionaries, and evangelists? Are you supporting them in your tithes? Are you using whatever gifts that you have in support of the church so that the Great Commission can be carried out by those God anoints to minister in whatever capacity it is?
The Great Commission is a commission of love given to us by the God of love. It is what Jesus asked us to do. People are going to Hell. Jesus wants us to help as many as possible find salvation in Him. He wants us to be His disciples and then make others into disciples as well. This is what He wants. Is this happening in your life and church? Are you contributing in some way to the building of the body of Christ. or do you only go to church and take in. If this is all you are doing, then you need to make some changes.
In America, too many Christians are comfortable with their lives, their VCR's, their remote control TV's, their air-conditioned cars, retirement funds, and their polished preachers. Our comfort is important to us. But, it can lure us into a casual relationship with God because all our earthly needs are met. Such casualness destroys the urgency, the intimacy of dependence upon God that excites and motivates the believer into action when God miraculously and continuously provides our needs. I also believe that many pastors are failing to do what the Bible says to do: equip the saints (Eph. 4:12). I suspect far too many pastors are more concerned about not offending their own congregations with the whole gospel than spreading its truth, lest people go find another church in which to be comfortable. Growing in Christ means to become mature and daily pick up your cross to follow Jesus. The pastor is not there to babysit Christians. He is not there to simply comfort them and to make them feel warm and cozy, nor is he there to reflect the current social trends and mores of the secular environment. He is there to equip the saints, to call them to repentance and holiness, to present God's Word, to train them up to be more like Jesus (Eph. 4:12), and to help them mature in Christ so that they can become a people of action as well as a people of love.
The gospel is not only about being born again but is also about picking up your cross and following Jesus (Luke 9:23), about prayer, about supporting Christians who teach, about bearing one another's burdens, about defending the faith, about standing up for righteousness, and much more. For too many Christians, picking up the cross and following Jesus is too much to ask. But it is, however, easy to drop a check in the offering plate and think that they've done their part as a Christian. This is nothing more than buying a way out of their responsibilities.
Is this too harsh?
If you think I am being too harsh, let me say that I know that there are many Christians who take their faith seriously, are learning and applying God's Word, and doing what they can to expand God's kingdom whether it be by praying, tithing, witnessing, teaching, church work, or living godly lives. Likewise, I know that there are many pastors who labor to equip their congregations and who lovingly work to shepherd them with all sincerity and obedience to Christ. For you all, I praise God for His miraculous work in you.
Pastors have a huge job before them. They are to preach God's Word, teach the congregation, counsel, model godliness, and equip the saints. This is difficult to do, especially when secularism is slowly making inroads into the hearts and minds of Christians. Regarding moral issues, Christians, statistically, are in bad shape. According to Barna Research online, of those claiming to be born again, only 23% believe abortion should be illegal, 34% believe homosexuality is alright, 36% believe that a man and a woman living together is okay, 37% says profanity is acceptable, only 20% believe it is wrong to get drunk, etc. This is truly sad and dangerous. Oh sure, you may say that they are not "real" Christians. I hope you're right. But, the statistics are real, and those who are truly born again should be out there fighting against abortion, homosexuality, drunkenness, etc., as well as praying for and seeking revival in Christian churches.
People are going to Hell. The enemy is making coverts to false gospels in the cults, false world religions, humanistic principles in schools, and moral relativism in society. Christians are not supposed to be keepers of the aquarium. They are supposed to be fishers of men. Christians are supposed to confront the world in a wise and loving fashion. This is what the Bible says to do, and to accomplish this, the Christians need a truly Christian worldview with the desire to spread the gospel everywhere.
The Christian Church needs to wake Up!
Christianity is under an ever-increasing attack. Here in America, laws are being passed to reduce and remove our religious freedoms. Prayer has been removed from schools and the 10 Commandments removed from courtrooms. Movies and TV routinely portray Christians as ignorant bigots. Universities constantly attack the absolutes of Christianity, and some even promote Eastern Mysticism, witchcraft, relativism, and a homosexual agenda by having representatives of these lies come in and teach! Secular society as a whole is imposing its moral agenda upon all people, the church included, and it is working! Christians are starting to listen to the false teaching of a fallen world and recanting on Biblical doctrines of the Trinity, the deity of Christ, of Jesus being the only way, of moral absolutes, and of their being a Day of Judgment with the unsaved going to Hell. This is the sign of apostasy within the church!
Again, let me add that not all Christians are apathetic and worldly. There are many churches with godly pastors who are teaching all of God's Word. There are many churches out there with members who are learning God's Word, who are making converts, and who are standing up for righteousness. It is because of people like them that the gospel is spreading throughout the world. There are more Christians alive now than ever before. But, there are also more Muslims now than ever before, more Mormons, more Jehovah's Witnesses, more atheists, etc., than ever before. Let's not give up nor become discouraged. Let's support one another in prayer. Let's study to show ourselves approved to God. Let's tithe properly. Let's witness. Let's take risks for Jesus. Let's do what He asks of us.
"All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age," (Matt. 28:18-20, NASB).