Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Life's a Vapor: A Letter to My Friend

The Bible describes life as being like a vapor that quickly vanishes away.  Before we know it, our lives have raced by, and we wonder where the time has gone.   In light of this inescapable fact, I’d like to write a farewell letter to my friend. No, I don’t plan on leaving this earth any time soon; however, I want to get some things out while I’ve got the chance. After all, none of us are promised tomorrow. 

Dear Friend,

I’m glad that you believe in God, and I’m glad that you are “religious.” This shows that you probably want to do what the Bible says, and you want to go to Heaven.  I’ve seen the pictures and videos of the worship services and other church events you’ve been a part of.  I’ve also read the inspirational Bible verses and devotional thoughts you’ve posted online.  Most of your other friends are probably happy or even inspired by all of these religious things going on in your life.  Sadly, I’m not.  I don’t mean to sound condescending or pompous. I just want to wake you up to the reality of your situation.  Waking you up to this reality has been one of the purposes behind my blog, which I hope you actually read. What I’m about to say comes from the heart, and I definitely don’t mean it as an insult to your intelligence.

It makes me sad that you put so much effort into vain worship.  In Matthew 15, Jesus accuses the Pharisees of vainly worshipping because they were teaching as doctrine the commandments of men.  That’s exactly what your church is doing. I’ve heard the sermons. Your minister would make a better inspirational speaker than preacher because his messages are sappy pep talks that play on pure emotion. There is little mention of actual Bible verses. The few verses that are mentioned are usually taken out of context, and their intended meanings are completely missed.  At your church, there is clearly an attitude of “what can I get out of being here, and how can I be entertained?”  I’ve seen the band and talented singers up on stage, rocking it out.  People are raising their hands and clapping along.  It looks just like a rock concert. I think that’s exactly what your “worship” services are – entertainment. Since when did God ask us to entertain ourselves when worshipping him?  Worship is about sacrifice, and it certainly isn’t about us! John 4:23-24: “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.  Your church may have the “spirit” part down, but its worship certainly isn’t rooted in truth. Your church is much like those people mentioned in Romans 10:1-3 who were zealous towards God, but they weren’t doing what God instructed.  The New Testament only authorizes singing (without instruments) (Eph. 5:19, Col. 3:16, Mark 14:26), praying (1 Tim. 2:8), partaking of the Lord’s Supper (every Sunday) (Mark 14:22-25, 1 Cor. 11:23-29, Acts 20:7), giving back (every Sunday, only on Sunday) (1 Cor. 16:2), and preaching (Acts 20:7, Acts 2:42). Where is the authorization to have a rock concert? This is the point that you and millions of others miss: EVERYTHING done in a worship setting is to be done by the authority of Jesus (Col. 3:17).

 It makes me sad that you blindly follow a man-made religion that even calls itself by a man’s name. 1 Corinthians 1:12-13: “Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?  Just like in the first century, many people today claim to be followers of Christ, but they are actually followers of men and their man-made doctrines (i.e. Lutherans, Calvinists, Wesleyans, Baptists (Smyth), Catholics (Pope), Mormons (Smith), etc). You may think a church’s name is a minor technicality, but it actually matters what church you’re part of because there is only one body, and that one body is Christ’s church (Eph. 4:4, Eph. 1:22-23).  Churches today will do whatever it takes to get people in the doors. They’ll come up with catchy, hipster names; they’ll put on extravagant shows; and they’ll tell you all you have to do is accept Jesus as your savior, and you’ll never be lost, no matter what.  Please don’t be fooled.  Compare their creed books with what’s actually in the Bible; you’d be surprised at the errors.

It makes me sad this letter will likely never accomplish its goal. I want you and everyone else I know to go to Heaven, but I’m afraid Satan’s got too tight of a grip on you.  He’s got you thinking that you’re a Christian and you’re making God proud. You’re comfortable where you are; it feels right.  Ephesians 3 talks about Christ’s church being the eternal purpose of God. God has known forever that salvation would come only through his son and his church. All of history points to Acts 2 and the establishment of Christ’s church. Don’t let people tell you it doesn’t matter what church you attend.  We can’t take some “pastor’s” word for what the church is and how we become a member of it.  Study the Bible with me, and I’ll show you what the true church is.  Don’t be like the people on judgment who professed to be Christians on Earth, but they end up hearing Christ say, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Mt. 7:23)

I hope this letter isn’t too harsh. I hope I haven’t driven you away.  God wants everyone to be saved (John 3:16, 2 Pet. 3:9), so please do your part in accepting his salvation under his terms. If you think I’m wrong about anything I’ve said, I invite you to show me why.  As a professed Christian, you have a responsibility to point out my error. Let me know if you want to talk about any of this or if you want to study the Bible together in general.  

God bless,
Your Friend