Updated: Jan 8
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him Who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-9 ESV
Before we begin, I want to say that the Lord loves all. He is calling all unto Him; but because He is a holy God, He will not accept anyone Who does not take His Word for what it says; and He will not allow us to follow a false Jesus and false Gospel, and make it into Heaven. ““...There is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved”” (Acts 4:12 NIV). Within the name of Jesus lies the key to our salvation. His crucifixion is what made possible fellowship with the Father. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 NKJV).
Like Paul, God has given me such a fortitude to reach out to both the unbeliever and self-proclaimed Christian. He has empowered me with internal strength to face ridicule and persecution. The cowardice, people-pleaser who once was known as Lance VanTine has been transformed through a renewal of courage and boldness to reach out to those who are lost. I love people; and those who know and meet with me know my heart. There is no condemning anybody, for I know the Hell-hole God brought me out of. There is, however, a love that goes deeper than the surface-based love we proclaim in our day and age.
It is a love that wants to bring people towards a deeper intimacy with Christ. It is a love that compels me to share the one, true Gospel about the one, true God. As many false prophets have swept into the church, there are multitudes being swept away from the true Christ. They are not only falling into false doctrines and teachings, they are believing them; and I am a firm believer that the most rejected gift of the Spirit in our day and age is discernment. No one wants to listen to the voice of him who hears from God, based upon God’s Word.
We need people who are willing to ask God for the discernment to understand: what exactly is going on within the church of our day? Where are we as a body of believers? Are we truly living for God? Do we truly have a desire to know God?
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). If there was ever a time when we needed Truth in love and conviction that leads to genuine conversion, it is now.
“He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 11:15 ESV
The Path Of A Counterfeit Faith
Multitude are being saturated with “everything’s okay” and “you’re alright” messages. We have many church-goers, and few God-seekers. We sit in church, accepting that everything being preached is true; yet, we neglect taking the time to see what God’s Word has to say for itself. We are blind sheep following after the popular psychology and popular preaching of our day. We simply believe every word of those who have their PhD’s. We think a seminary degree guarantees infallibility; when, the only infallibility that has stood the test of time are the Scriptures themselves. We sit in the pews and say we love God, yet we neglect to have any ounce of wanting to obey Him throughout the week. This negligence of spending time in the Word and alone with God in prayer has led our nation to become where it is at: deceived and idle.
We Deceive Ourselves
So many come to the Cross for its benefits, but never go through the Cross to endure the true path of being a believer. Our eyes gaze upon the world, rather than on eternity. We are so willing to go up to Jesus, hanging upon a Cross, and say, “That’s so sweet of You. Thank You for doing that for me. I’ll be back, I’m going to go spend time with the world; but don’t worry, I’ll see you next week.” We take Christ’s crucifixion as a golden ticket. We seek to accept all the rewards without the responsibility. We are layman when it comes to knowing what happened on the day of crucifixion. Because we don’t see what actually happened upon that Cross, we idle by in this life, free of any call towards obedience and discipline.
We are selfish and conceited when it comes to life. We are not even talking about the one who recognizes the internal selfishness of man and the need to die to self; we are talking about those who profess Christ but lack any representation of spiritual power within their life. O how God’s heart grieves for those who are self-deceived and led astray by false prophets. We are a rebellious children who know not God’s Word, because we seek not His counsel.
The Religious Game
We go in and out of a church, as easy as we go in and out of a movie. We say, “That was a good message. I feel really good”; yet, we are not brought low before a Holy God. We would rather be pampered and told how “good” we are, without there being any call towards change. The message of today is “You have greatness in you” instead of “Christ wants to do a great work in you.” In order to have an external impact for Christ’s Kingdom, you must have a miraculous change internally; and this is only done by the Holy Spirit’s sanctifying work. Everything begins with the heart. A lack of responsibility to acknowledge this, will keep one playing the game of religion all their lives.
The Danger of Simple Belief
We live in a culture that says “just believe in Jesus Christ and you are saved”; when in actuality, Christ said “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36 ESV). O how multitudes are being deceived by these pastors who choose to be people-pleasers, rather than Scriptural-teachers. How easy they make the Christian walk look. “Just say this prayer one time and you’ll be forever saved” has sent more people to Hell than Lucifer himself. The tsunami of deception that “we can just believe and not obey” has swept away many Christians into a counterfeit conversion. It has “allowed” them to think they can still live like the world and make it to Heaven. How sad that Final Judgment Day will be for the multitudes of all generations - to think they are on their way to Heaven; when, in fact, they are on their way to Hell.
The Cool Preacher
The majority of cool preachers in our day are ““false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves”” (Matthew 7:15 ESV). They preach a sensual song of blessing and grace, grace, grace….and more grace. Though God “sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7 ESV), these preachers love to comfort and coddle their congregations in their sins. As a matter of fact, rarely (if ever) is the word “sin” mentioned.
God has opened my eyes to discern something very crucial: The entry point of a pastor fearing man is when they say “God sent His Son to die for you” rather than “God sent His Son to die for your sins. Repent.” They cover-up the sin aspect and have Christ appeal to the sinner through a perverted love. To those who are still reading: Christ did not die for us because we were worthy of it. Christ died for our sins because that is simply Who He is - it’s His very nature; and it’s that which we call love. You and I have done absolutely nothing to deserve His atoning sacrifice; you and I have done everything that led Him to His atoning sacrifice. Until we stop listening to preachers tell us “how good” and “how great” we are, we will fall into a counterfeit spirituality that seeks “what can I get from God’; rather than “what can I do for God, by the power of the Holy Spirit”.
Clock In, Clock Out
Many of us show up to church in order to check it off the “to-do” list. Once we have punched in and punched out, we go into the week feeling good that “we have paid our dues.” Throughout the rest of the week, God is not in our thoughts and we lack a heart that seeks to honor and obey Him. We pray these little prayers that serve no merit. They are self-interest prayers, rather than selfless-serving prayers. We no longer have a desire to pray for God’s plan and provision in our lives. We just pray that He would bless our plans and provisions for our life.
How it must grieve the heart of God when self-proclaimed Christians lack a desire to want to know Him. We must assess our heart as to why we go to church. Is it to feel good? Is it for the coffee and donuts? Is it to appear righteous before our colleagues and friends? Is it to give us comfort that we are “good people”? Or is it simply to honor God and seek to know Him more? Where is our heart in all of this? We must answer honestly, for our souls depend upon it. Mere utterance of belief is not enough; for belief is not just a thought of mental ascent; it is an action. “Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves Me will obey My teaching. My Father will love them, and We will come to them and make Our home with them. Anyone who does not love Me will not obey My teaching. These words you hear are not My own; they belong to the Father who sent Me” (John 14:23-24 NIV).
Many of our discussions simply have no value. Sports and movies; arts and crafts; social media and work. These things are not bad in themselves, but they have become idols. Why is it we talk with our friends - our very close friends - and our discussions lack any fruit in them? O yes, they may be nice and entertaining; but why do we neglect to talk about God? Is it because we are ignorant of what His Word says? I am convinced that the person who does not talk about God in the midst of their discussions, does not spend time with Him in prayer and in the Word. Sure, one may do a five minute devotional and count that as enough. Great. That is wonderful you did that five minute devotional; but is Christ in your thoughts throughout the rest of the day? What rules your mind? Leonard Ravenhill once said, “A man who is intimate with Christ, will never be intimidated by men.” How true is this. May we speak Christ to all men, at all times.
We Have Perverted The Word “Christian”
We have many self-proclaimed Christians, and few born-again believers. If we were to ask the average self-proclaimed Christian today what their faith is, they would say, “Christ died for me.” Why? “Because He loved me.” Why? “Well…because…umm….”. They have no understanding of what it means to be a Christian; though, Christ said ““Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple”” (Luke 14:27 ESV).
This is not entirely a person’s fault, however. The majority of the responsibility also lies on the preachers of our day. I see more and more preachers (the ones who are mainstream that everyone follows), water-down the Gospel to half-truths that accommodate the sinner. They preach lessons and “how-to’s” to “become a better you”. They simply use the name of Christ to further their agendas. They do not have a heart that seeks to save the souls of men (which is done by a Spirit-filled, genuinely converted, born-again believer). Instead, they have a heart that seeks numbers. They would rather bring in hundreds and thousands of people into their congregation and appear that they are “one of the leaders” in the Christian faith.
Dear friend, I say this: I would rather be part of a small, genuine church; then an artificial, large church. Most times, mega churches may appear supreme; yet, due to the lack of genuine converts, they lack any spiritual authority. Find me a small, local congregation of souls on fire for God; and that church will do more in the power of the Spirit, than a mega church can do with 10,000 lukewarm members. The former is empowered and led by the Holy Spirit, while the latter is moved by the machinery and mechanisms of men.
What’s The Need To Address All This
The need to address all this is because many are living in self-deception. They don’t know the Word of God; therefore, they don’t know the God of the Word. They seek their plans, above God’s plans; they accept Christ’s rewards, without being chastised by His sword; they would rather be comforted in their sins, then confronted in their sins. This is the way of modern-American Christianity. As the years press on, it will only get worse.
The reason for writing this is because I truly want to see everyone come to know Christ. Yes. Everyone. Even the murdering rapist sentenced to life in prison. If God can save a sinner who deserves damnation such as I -- a man who is wicked internally apart from Christ -- if He can save that man, sanctify him, and bring him to a miraculous transformation of character, hope and purpose; then surely, He can do it for any and all who genuinely seek Truth and want to know Christ.
The Greatest Gift
The greatest gift God has given us that both leads us to the Cross and forwards us along into the sanctification process is conviction; and it is that which is done and given by the Holy Spirit. I am convinced that the person who listens to conviction and does not harden their heart to it, will have higher residency in the Kingdom of God then the person who may be a Christian, but never acts upon that conviction - and there are most certainly levels of rewards and status in Heaven (Matthew 6:1-6, Matthew 16:27, Matthew 19:28-39, Matthew 25:14-30, Romans 2:6, 1 Corinthians 3:11-15). Someone who was saved and lived an easy life doing the bare-minimum will most certainly not be rewarded the same as Paul the Apostle - who went through immense pain, persecution, ridicule and hate for the sake of preaching the One, True Gospel. Even though all rewards given by the Father will be dedicated to our Lord Jesus Christ; nonetheless, there will be mightier ranks for those who lived their lives in greater faith and obedience.
Now, back to conviction. Conviction is the blessed gift of what leads a man or woman to genuine repentance. They don’t harden their heart to the Holy Spirit’s conviction, but rather soften their hearts and act upon that which needs to be repented of. Read the Psalms and you will clearly see how David was impacted by his adulterous, murderous act. He was brought down to dust. He wanted nothing to do but repent to God. His heart was sorrowful, and his spirit was low; but after that season of crying out to God for forgiveness, God came.
O how God longs to do the same to us! If we all learned to weep and mourn over our sins as David did, I believe there would be an awakening within our nation. We would see ourselves for who we truly are apart from Christ; and we would see ourselves for who we are in Christ. There is a difference, and it is important to recognize the two. One brings a clear recognition of who one is without Christ: Wicked; and the other sees themselves for who they are in Christ: Righteous.
True Faith In This Life
This life is all about Christ, and it is all for Christ. If we are not living for Him, then we are not dying to sin.
Will we choose to live the Scriptural Christian walk? Or will we solely rely on the modern-day pastor’s teaching? Will we soften our hearts and ask God for discernment? Or will we harden our hearts into self-deception? The choice is up to us, and thankfully the Lord has blessed me with like minded friends who took the appropriate action to do the same as the saints of old.
It’s time to get right with God and stop living a superficial Christian life. It’s time to stop being deceived into a counterfeit conversion. It’s time to repent of all sin. It’s time to ask the Holy Spirit to convict and sanctify us. It’s time to believe that God’s grace and mercy will cover the genuine heart that longs to live for Him. Though the Christian life is not perfect; and though we may stumble; Christ is there to reach out His hand and pull us up out of the water of our iniquities, and raise us above onto holy ground.
Stay the course, saints.