What is Christianity?
A spiritual malaise is plaguing Christianity today, which is leading to a widespread decline in church attendance. Eighty percent of churches are stagnant or losing membership. A 2013 Pew Research survey found that only 37 percent of Americans attend church regularly. Three in 10 say they never or rarely go. Ask most pastors what percentage of inactive members they have – they’ll say anywhere from 40 percent to 60 percent. When I was a youth it seemed as if everyone went to church. The result of that general religious environment was a more law-abiding society and a culture in which people showed more care and concern for one another.
In treating the symptoms of declining attendance rather than the cause, many ministries are switching from Bible-based teachings to pleasing the congregation any way they can just to fill their pews. Today’s church culture has tried to become user-friendly through milquetoast teachings. It’s called seeker-sensitive. The aim is to find ways to make attendance attractive and entertaining – competing with Disneyland, Hollywood, and Broadway. Many larger ministries are turning to consumer business models. They take surveys to give the congregation what they want. And what they want is a Starbucks in the vestibule. And to hold services at Buffalo Wild Wings, as one church has started doing. Provide youth areas with Xboxes and three-tiered playgrounds, and run live social media feeds during worship. Many ministries today have lost touch with their whole purpose. The Apostle Paul was very concerned about today’s lack of Bible teaching. He prophesied about it to the young Timothy in 2Timothy 4:2: “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” Fables is “moothos” in the Greek, meaning a fictional tale. Clearly we are seeing the fulfillment of this prophecy today. How many churchgoers are truly interested in the pure, unadulterated Word in our culture? How many hunger for sound doctrine and desire above all to conform to it? Astonishing Bible Truths Your Church Never Taught >>
Many Reasons for Today’s Attendance
Motives for church attendance are all over the map. Most of them have little to do with the Scriptures.
The following are seven key reasons people attend church today.
- A majority go to church because it is all about them. They go to feel good and feel good about themselves. Many are looking for entertainment, and if they find their church getting boring, they shop around. So what is Christianity?
- A second reason many attend is to socialize. They go to touch base with friends or to find new ones. They see it as a club or like a stop at the corner cafe.
- A third reason is all about the pastor: they like his charisma or his speaking style, or maybe he’s a good singer. Or else they are drawn to his friendliness. Or to his family. Or they like the prestige of going to his big, impressive church building.
- Many attend for the sake of their children. They like the youth programs. For many, it is all about youth activities. If the youth program changes or dies, they go church shopping.
- For others, it is all about networking. They go for business contacts, or to schmooze with prospective employers who attend there.
- Some simply have never been anywhere else and do not know any different. They grew up in their church, have always attended there, and will die going there. Others attend a church half-heartedly only because a spouse or friend wants them to. Some go just to ease their guilt. They show up a couple times a year, usually around the pseudo-holy days.
Most all of these are self-centered reasons for worship in the 21st century: it’s all about me. Does this church fit me and how do I look in it, Like shopping for a coat.
- The last reason some attend church today is to find truth. Not meaning to be cynical here, but I call this the last reason not just because it’s last on my list, but because it is fast becoming the least popular motive for weekly attendance.
Those in this category sincerely want to honor, serve and please the Creator they worship. They know that their salvation depends on it and are willing to make whatever life changes are necessary toward that end, even hard things like humbly repenting of their sins and living a different life as shown in the Word. Those with hearts desiring to serve Yahweh are the ones who will one day serve as priests in His Kingdom if they stay faithful to Him. Considering the popularity of all the other reasons, going to church in an earnest desire to find and follow truth probably will never rise above its last-place status today. Not until Yahshua returns, at least.
Dedication Soon to Be Enforced
When that time comes this list will be turned on its head as everyone will worship in sincerity and truth – or else. All other self-centered, superficial reasons will be unacceptable. Yahshua said in John 4:23: “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. Yahweh is Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”
True devotion that pleases Yahweh is serious business. It is not about the worshiper but all about the One who is worshiped. It is about giving Him the honor He demands by living His Word. Back in the day, attending services for the sole purpose of worship would not even be a question. Only a few decades ago many more churchgoers searched the Scriptures in a sincere desire to get their lives and worship right. They read their Bibles and knew intuitively that devotion was all about truth and conforming to it. Far more had hearts hungering to learn what the Bible taught and especially – and this is key – to change their lives and follow what Yahweh expected of them. Today that kind of conviction is dying. Paul warned about this very thing that was also happening in his day. He said, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Messiah unto another good news: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the good news of Messiah. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other good news unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed,” Galatians 1:6-8.
For Many, Progress Stops at Conviction
We are facing an age-old dynamic. Many who hear our message on television, online, or in our publications are intrigued by what we teach. But just like the Greeks listening to Paul on Mar’s Hill, a majority are only curious and once their curiosity is satisfied, they fade away. When it comes to taking new found understanding of truth to heart by putting the Bible’s clear teachings into practice, that’s where dedication typically nosedives. We counsel people at baptism that they now must be faithful to the Sabbath and Feasts the rest of their lives. They are making a permanent commitment and living a new and different life now, with Yahweh coming first in everything. It is a covenant they make with Him. This is basic, and only those willing to do that are going to be chosen for the Kingdom.
No Lasting Satisfaction in World
Many find their fulfillment in this present world. Paul had a short-term follower named Demas who also had too much love for this world. Love not the world, John wrote, nor the things in it. If you do, then the love of Yahweh is not within you. Yahshua’s parable of the sower is a reprimand for the weak of will. The seed sprouts but then dies out. It requires too much sacrifice to change their lives. They are happy with the status quo. They are comfortable in their sins. Or at least not uncomfortable enough to repent of them, which means change their lives, and be blessed by Yahweh. But when things begin to heat up, worldly pursuits will mean nothing. That day will reflect the same short-term change in attitudes in our nation that followed the attacks on
Yahshua’s parable of the sower is a reprimand for the weak of will. The seed sprouts but then dies out. It requires too much sacrifice to change their lives. They are happy with the status quo. They are comfortable in their sins. Or at least not uncomfortable enough to repent of them, which means change their lives, and be blessed by Yahweh. But when things begin to heat up, worldly pursuits will mean nothing. That day will reflect the same short-term change in attitudes in our nation that followed the attacks on 9-11, when people feared the future and frivolities faded fast. A lack of commitment to Him leads Yahweh to say, “I never knew you, depart from me. You have no deep regard for me. You never took me seriously when you had all the opportunity to do so. You didn’t have time for me when you pursued your worldly goals.” False teachings have led millions to count on winning the Prize by doing nothing but believe. They want salvation but apparently not enough to run the race. Yahshua hates the something-for-nothing attitude. He was clear when He said that to live by the Word would not be a walk down Easy Street. He said those who follow the Scriptures would not win any popularity contests. He promised, “In the world, you will have tribulation.” Today’s popular perception is that you can be blessed with health, wealth, and prosperity just by claiming a belief. As 2Timothy 4 tells us, that is fiction. Only in the life to come will true blessings reign. Yet, the trials that always come with obedience are nothing compared with the blessings in Kingdom life. “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us,” Romans 8:18. Paul wrote in 2Timothy 3:12: “Yea, and all that will live piously in Messiah Yahshua shall suffer persecution.”
Committing Your Life Is the Whole Key
If the whole point and purpose of learning truth is to apply it, as the Scriptures abundantly teach, why the lack of com-mitment to do that today? Learning without doing is just a mental exercise, in Yahweh’s eyes a waste of time. If you agree that the Sabbath is the seventh day, but continue doing your chores, shopping, and golfing on Saturday, then you are no better off than the heathen. If you agree with Scripture that the Feasts are the only holidays commanded by Yahweh and kept in both Old and New testaments, and made for all His people in every era, but you never observe them with His body of believers, then your endorsement is pointless and useless. Knowledge without real life application will get you nowhere. If you have proved the sacred Names of the Father and Son and correctly recognize that only in His Name do you find salvation, Acts 4:12, but you don’t commit to calling on, and worshiping in His Name, then you may as well disavow it. If we really respect Yahweh, if we actually serve Him as we say, then we will honor His Name as He commands: “I am Yahweh: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images,” Isaiah 42:8. His name appears in the Old Testament’s source manuscripts 6,823 times. That should be enough to prove its importance, shouldn’t it? James in 4:17 says enlightenment is serious business: “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” Knowing Yahweh’s word and not following it is tantamount to sin.
Take the Responsibility
Once you cross the threshold of understanding and know in your heart what is right and true, you are then held responsible for it. Yahweh from that point forward holds you accountable for following it. That includes all of the Ten Commandments and His laws. If after conviction you turn back, Hebrews 6 equates it to sin for which there is no remedy. If you have seen and proved the truth but do nothing further with it, you bury the gift of understanding Yahweh gave you. And He will hold you accountable. We must walk in all the light Yahweh gives us. Obstacles and roadblocks keep many of the easily discouraged from following truth. Our culture itself breeds laxity and nonresponsibility. Making bad choices leading to alcohol abuse or nicotine addiction is excused by the popular rationalization that it is not your fault; you can’t help it, you have a disease. Many lack the integrity to take responsibility for their actions. Today’s society contributes greatly to that irresponsibility. We have no-fault insurance, no-fault divorce, and no-fault attendance policies. A denial of responsibility is followed by a lack of commitment. Nowhere is this more serious than in serving Yahweh. But the biggest impediment to repentance and the need to put into practice what Scripture commands lands squarely in the laps of the clergy. The assault on biblical teachings of obedience saturates pulpits everywhere.
Church after church will tell you that all you need is faith. Nothing more. If salvation truly comes from faith alone, then 99.9 percent of the Bible would be unnecessary. One verse stating such belief could replace all 31,102 verses in Scripture. Yet, no such verse exists. Forget hundreds of passages of New Testament instruction and example in righteous obedience to Yahweh’s Word. Never mind the Savior’s three and one-half years of teaching how to live according to the Word, as well as His own example of obedient living while He walked this earth. Forget all that He taught His disciples and us as well, about how to live, “As the Father gave me commandment, so I do,” He said in John 14:31. Yahshua plainly said that only the one who does the will of His Father will enter the Kingdom of heaven, Matthew 7:21. In Matthew 19:17 He said if you seek everlasting life, then keep the commandments. A favorite “proof” text for belief alone is Romans 10:9: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Master Yahshua, and shalt believe in thine heart that Yahweh hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” You see, confession and belief—that’s all you need, many say. If that’s true, then why obey? Because of the next verse: “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” When you believe to the point of righteousness then you put your belief and understanding into daily practice. That is what righteousness means. It is from the Greek meaning holy, set apart. How? Through obedience. He said the same thing in John 3:16, where “believeth in Him” entails “committing to” in obedience. See Hebrews 5:9. Paul wrote in 1Corinthians 15:34: “Awake to righteousness and sin not.” Sin is disobedience. Sin is breaking of the law, 1John 3:4. Righteousness means not sinning. It means obedience.
Luke 1:6 tells us that John the Baptist’s father and mother were both righteous. Does that mean they just had faith alone? Let’s see: “And they were both righteous before Elohim, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of Yahweh blameless.” Obedience to the commands makes one righteous. Yahshua told a woman in Luke 11:28 who was trying to reduce His blessing for His mother Miriam, “Rather, blessed are they that hear the word of Elohim, and keep it.” Keep means to observe, obey. The obedient are those who are blessed. You can’t be a sinner and righteous at the same time. You can’t be doing righteousness but thinking wickedness. Or thinking obedience but living a life of disobedience.Yet millions are under the illusion that it can be done. You can live for yourself and still have everlasting life awaiting you just because you claim you believe. You can’t be a sinner and righteous at the same time. You can’t be doing righteousness but thinking wickedness. Or thinking obedience but living a life of disobedience. Yet millions are under the illusion that it can be done. You can live for yourself and still have everlasting life awaiting you just because you claim you believe. Others think they can go halfway and still be saved. James 2:10 tells them, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” One way or another we all will face the One who inspired the Book. Now is the time to make the most of the opportunity each of us has been given to worship Him in truth and live for Him.
Religious Hucksters Everywhere
A lot of megachurches pander to the selfish interests of their audiences. They set a low standard for many ministries to emulate.
Their audiences just want to feel good, so they are served a smorgasbord of warm and fuzzy preaching. Nothing controversial.
- Throw in lots of psychology and sociology.
- Spin a never-ending web of low-impact yarns with a visual circus on jumbotron screens. That way they’ll keep coming back for more feel-good entertainment.
- Don’t ever say anything life-impacting.
- Never make the listeners feel bad about their sinfulness. Don’t even mention sin or repentance. The last thing they want is conviction that leads to obedience to the one they claim to worship.
- People just need to feel good about themselves. Tell them Yahweh just wants them to be happy, and they deserve to have joy no matter what.
- Live for today and have your best life now.
The prophets and apostles would be aghast at all this flim-flam, which is designed to pull in numbers and a full offering plate. Teachings about conversion and obedience never proceed from the speakers’ lips. Neither does the subject of sin and its destructive work.
Today we see rampant spiritual malpractice at the highest level. It was one of the hot topics that Yahshua and the apostles railed against. In the Scriptures, Israelites came to the temple for one thing: to worship Yahweh as He demands. They worshiped regularly and learned lessons in how far they had strayed from Him. It was all about discovering ever more of Him and serving Him, which is the most important purpose in our worship and life. Soon all will be obediently honoring Yahweh. Yahshua said, “But the hour cometh, and now is when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him,” John 4:23. Why would anyone waste their time subjected to teachings not based on the Word? Why would anyone want to go backward? Anything other than worship taught in the Scriptures is idolatry, whether it be a metal image or a vaunted self-image desirous of personal gain. Many ministries today just want to be social clubs, with watered down, low-impact, nonjudgmental teachings that have no connection with New Testament worship. What is Christianity? The modern church has ranged far afield from apostolic instruction and life. What changed? Was it the Bible? Scripture says that both Yahweh and Yahshua are the same yesterday and today and forever. So it wasn’t they who turned aside. From the very days of their ministries in Acts, the apostles were confronted by those who deviated, having less than pure motives. Do as the New Testament writers did: follow the Word closely every day and you will never go wrong. Observe its teachings faithfully. A crown of everlasting life in a never-ending kingdom awaits those who have Yahweh at heart and are willing to live their lives for Him.
What is Christianity? What they don’t want you to know >>