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The Widespread Growing Plague of Popularity Driven Churches


It's a popular misconception that if your church is popular then it must be right with God and it's filled with the Spirit. It's very easy to misquote Acts 2:41 which says:
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

I don't doubt that verse and text is in the Bible. But it doesn't mean that just because there were 3,000 people saved that day that it will always be like that. On the contrary, Jesus also warned:
Matthew 7:13-14  
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

It should be a thought. If there were 3,000 saved that day when Peter preached but how many did not respond to the message? Maybe it's 3,000 out of 10,000 people or more. Jesus already warned that there are more people who heading the wrong way than there are people who are heading the right way. Just because an organization has lots and lots of followers doesn't mean it's doing God's will. The Roman Catholic institution has over five billion members and I don't care about its increasing numbers because right is always right even when nobody says it's right.

Sound doctrine is rejected

The Apostle Paul warned Timothy saying:
2 Timothy 2:2-4 
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering 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.

When I thought of how Andy Stanley calls expository preaching as "lazy" and "cheating" I can't help but think something is really wrong. What's also amazing is that some Roman Catholic sites are even honest enough to admit (in some way) why they oppose expository preaching. Here's a very disturbing quote from Homiletic and Pastoral Review a Roman Catholic site:
The ideal Evangelical sermon not only teaches the meaning of the biblical text, it also applies that text to the real-world concerns that the members of the congregation face. Many pastors use expository preaching, which means the pastor will have a series of sermons on a single book of the Bible. Each week, the sermon explains another section of the book, verse by verse, so that by the end of the sermon series, the congregation has a good understanding of the main message of the book. Sadly, expository preaching is probably the biggest reason that Catholics leave the Church in favor of an Evangelical congregation. Ex-Catholics often say that they understood the Bible for the first time after regular attendance at an Evangelical church. 

Expository preaching really gets into the meaning of the text. It goes to investigate the Greek, the Hebrew, the tenses, the figures of speech and the context rather than cherry pick and leave the rest. I guess that's why Stanley calls it "cheating" because expository preaching makes the listeners better with the Bible than out-of-context preaching. The problem of Roman Catholic sermons is that they don't really bother too much with the context. They tend to appeal to Greek and the Roman only when it's convenient like how they appeal to Acts 9:31 to prove that Christians were called "Catholics" when the context says that kath holEs means "down whole" did not describe the members of the church but the Church itself. Yes, the Church is Catholic but not Roman Catholic.

What's worse is that there's the popularity of sugar-coated preaching. One good reason why I stopped listening to Joel Osteen during my growing years was because he wasn't making sense. The Bible doesn't promise prosperity, prosperity, prosperity but persecution, persecution, persecution before having the true blessing, blessing, blessing in Heaven. With the song that talks about how a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down how true is that song with sugar-coated preaching. You have to take your medicine no matter how awful it tastes. If I have a headache or fever I have to endure taking bitter tablets in order to get well. Mixing them with sugar will do me no good. Also, too much sugar can cause diabetes. Many people today are spiritually diabetic because of sugar-coated preaching.

For these popularity driven churches they only care about what's popular than the truth itself. If they find out that the majority loves the doctrine they stick to it no matter how false it is. After all, how many pews are filled up by the thousands or millions to a pastor who preaches the Word of God?

Unequal yokes are welcome

It's no surprise that popularity driven churches are having unequal yokes. If you're truly saved then you should know better than to enter into unequal yokes. But not these guys. From the late John Paul II getting popular with religious leaders around the world to Joel Osteen's huge church attendance it's no surprise. It's not a surprise either that Osteen is linked with the Vatican itself.

It's easy to tell someone that if they want a pastor and if they're conservative Christians that they'll never become billionaires and they'll be losers in life. The problem with the world today is that they love to think of material success instead of spiritual success. While there's nothing wrong with material success but getting too occupied by it is a real problem. It's because such pastors refuse to compromise with the world. It means persecution, persecution and more persecution.

Do you want to get popular with the world? Then stop preaching separation and preach a wrong kind of love. Stop telling people that Jesus is the only Way to the Father or if you do stop telling them that Roman Catholics aren't Christians. Becoming popular with the world has so often been to get in trouble with God.
John 15:18-20 
If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
James 4:4 
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Friendship with the world has always been getting into trouble with God. The world loves its own and the current world is at total enmity against God. You can go ahead and say that some people are religious but they have a false religion. If you have true religion it's a religare with Jesus. It should be pure, undefiled religion.
James 1:25-27 
But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. 

False, empty religion is nothing but external change. True that you can have religions like Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism seeking to reform the inside but they fail short of God's perfect righteousness. New Age meditation techniques (which are nothing more than rehash of Eastern mysticism) think they can purify the inside by one's own effort than the grace of God. The notion of overcoming sin by one's own inner goodness is popular with the world. Tell them that they're filthy through and through and that they're totally depraved you can expect nothing but an angry mob.

Creating a famine for the Word of God

The popularity driven church's momentum makes it very hard to find a Bible-believing church. It's no wonder that there's a famine for the Word of God.
Amos 8:11-12 
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD: And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it.

The famine is greatly affecting Christians today. This is probably God's way of weeding out the Church of non-members away from the Christians. It's very hard to find a church that stays faithful to the Word of God. You want to go to a Christian church but all you find are popularity-based churches. What's worse is that you may find an Evangelical or Baptist church but it doesn't preach sound doctrine. You find any churches that look Christian but it doesn't preach the right doctrine. What good is it to go to a huge fellowship if the Word of God isn't preached? It would do no good to have a huge assembly if the substance is all spiritual garbage.

I experienced it myself. I wanted sound Christian teaching so I tuned to Trinity Broadcasting Network. I listened to many of its teachers hoping to get my hunger and thirst satisfied. Instead, I found myself with unsound doctrine. The fact that many of them were pro-Vatican made me vomit and I had to move somewhere else. I tried to compromise with my former faith only to find out that God's Word never agrees with it. I tried listening to the anti-Catholic charismatic crusades only to find out that they were no better. We have Roman Catholic priests and their immorality then I don't deny that the charismatic movement is full of scandals. It shocked me how one got hooked with a prostitute and another has been conning people with the prosperity gospel.

What's fortunate is that God still hasn't given up. He may have caused a famine for the Word of God but He is faithful and just to those who seek it. It's by His grace that one can find themselves in a God-driven church and not a popularity-driven church. The question is right now are you seeking for a popularity driven church or a God-driven church?
Joshua 24:15
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

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