My journey has been about an increasing awareness of the deception and delusion in the church. It obviously didn’t start out that way as I was caught up in it just like everyone else. As my journey continued, I began to see more and more of the desolation the church is in and how far off track it was. The most important part was my journey into scripture. I consider my Master of Divinity degree as basically meaningless. Seminary was the requirement at the time to be a minister. It was after seminary that God’s word became alive and everything from that point on would be about God’s word. The more I read the bible, the more I began to see but at the same time, the less I saw the church looking like what I was reading in scripture. When I would hear people speak, I would always check to see what scripture said and found major discrepancies and distorted views. I began to see that much of the bible was missing in the church as it had been replace with the words of man. Sermons were not really about the bible but the bible being used to collaborate the message of man. I also saw the power that was in scripture was not in the church and the church did not seem to care. 

        Over time I saw that the church looked nothing like what I was reading in scripture. I was raised in the church, but I realized there was so much that was missing, especially when compared to scripture. It really is amazing how the church has adapted to being powerless. Not only has it adapted, this desolation we are in and lack of power has become normalized and now for most what they see today is considered church. But scripture tells us otherwise. As you read the Gospels and Acts, you see the power of God at work. Mark 6:6 “Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. 7 Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. 8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. 9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.” Luke 9:1 “When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.” Matthew 10:1 “When Jesus taught from place to place it looked like this. Matthew 4:23 “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.” When you examined your Easter Sunday or any other time that you gathered, did it look like that?

        This was the gospel and power flowed as the two go hand in hand. Mark 16:20 “the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” This confirmation is missing today so it makes sense that the gospel then is not being preached as described in scripture. The deception and delusion of the church is seen everywhere and not just in one particular group. We were told this would happen. Daniel 8:12 “Because of rebellion, the Lord’s people and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.” Daniel 7:21 “As I watched, this horn was waging war against the holy people and defeating them, 22 until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the holy people of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom.” Daniel 9:27 “And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” 2 Thessalonians 2:4 “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”

        Around the world, people gathered to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many would have sung or said, He is has risen, He has risen indeed, but where is the power that raised Jesus from the dead? Many try to get around this question by saying the power is in salvation, which is partially true, but Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom and healed the sick and cast out demons. That is the complete picture. That leads to the question; are people really getting saved if the true power of God is not present. If God has turned His face, then people are not being saved. Even so, many will have enjoyed their service, the music would have been good and the preaching on point but where is the power? We talked about this already but even though the music could have been spectacular, God is not listening. Amos 5:21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me. 22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Though you bring choice fellowship offerings, I will have no regard for them. 23 Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.” Isaiah 1:12 “When you come to appear before me, who has asked this of you, this trampling of my courts? 13 Stop bringing meaningless offerings! Your incense is detestable to me. New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations— I cannot bear your worthless assemblies. 14 Your New Moon feasts and your appointed festivals I hate with all my being. They have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. 15 When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood!”

        The reality is that what we call church is not what it seems. Going to church and singing and listening to a sermon can feel right, but if there is no power, then it is not how it is supposed to be. We are told Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.” So many have followed the wrong voice. Proverbs tells us you can follow wisdom, Proverbs 9:6 “Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of insight. Or follow folly 16 “To those who have no sense she says, 17 “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” 18 But little do they know that the dead are there, that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead.” The church we see today is not even close to the church Jesus empowered by His Spirit at Pentecost. Tomorrow we are going to look at testing the spirits to find truth.