DEAD CHURCH
"YOU HAVE A REPUTATION THAT YOU ARE ALIVE, BUT YOU ARE DEAD"

Dead Church Episode 18:

Why Does My Life Look Nothing Like The Bible? (Part 1)

Growing up in the Church, I would often read the stories in the Bible, and think, “Why isn’t it like that today?” Look at what the Bible says life looks like when you know God:

 

Enoch was taken up into heaven.[1] Noah survived a worldwide flood.[2] Abraham defeated four kings, he was visited by angels, and he saw fire come from heaven and destroy entire cities.[3] Moses demonstrated God’s power in Egypt with ten powerful plagues, he parted the Red Sea, he gave water to the Israelites from a rock, he gave them food in the middle of a desert, and God said that he spoke to Moses face-to-face.[4]

 

Joshua parted the Jordan River, he defeated Jericho by shouting and blowing trumpets, and he commanded the sun to stand still in the sky and it obeyed him.[5] Gideon defeated a massive army with only three hundred men.[6] Samuel prophesied, and not one word he said failed to come true.[7] David defeated a giant, he overthrew kings, and he was rescued from death on countless occasions.[8]

 

Elijah stopped the rain for three years by praying, he called down fire from heaven, he raised the dead, and he was taken up into heaven in a chariot of fire.[9] Elisha made an iron axe head float on water, he healed the sick, and even after he died a dead man was raised from the dead when his body simply touched Elisha’s dead body.[10] Isaiah saw God’s throne room.[11] Daniel survived a lions’ den and repeatedly interacted with angels who told him the future.[12] His friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego survived being thrown into a blazing furnace.[13]

 

The apostles and the early Church healed the sick,[14] saw thousands saved,[15] raised the dead,[16] had visions and dreams,[17] and were taken up into heaven itself.[18]

 

Over and over again the Bible is filled with incredible stories about how the people who know God see him work in mighty ways, defending them, empowering them, and providing for them. Then we look at the modern-day Church, and we think, “Well, we had a cool worship service today.”

 

Something’s wrong!

 

Christianity today is missing something. The power of God seen all throughout the Bible seems to be almost absent from the Church today. For many years, I saw this, and I always had the question: Why? Why do our lives look so different today? Why don’t we see God move in power like we read about in the Bible?

 

The life most Christians experience today is so vastly different than anything we read about in the Bible. God seems distant. He seems far away. He seems uninvolved in our lives. We sing songs to him, we say prayers, and we try to convince ourselves that we know him, but we often don’t really feel like we have a personal relationship with him.

 

We often go to church only because we feel like we have to or because our friends are there. We read our Bibles because we know we should. If we spend an hour reading the Bible each day, we’re kind of secretly impressed with ourselves. If we read through the entire Bible every year, we’re considered devout, because so few Christians read through the Bible at all.

 

When we ask for things in prayer, we try to muster up as much faith as we can. Jesus promised us that we can ask for whatever we want, and as long as we have faith, we will receive what we ask for.[19] Yet despite how hard we try to believe, the sick often don’t get healed, the dead don’t get raised, the lame don’t walk, and the blind don’t see. The miracles are absent, and the only prayers that seem like they get answered are the minor ones that honestly probably would have happened even if we hadn’t prayed at all.

 

When we read these grand promises in the Bible and then look at Christianity today, it’s really no surprise that so many people are leaving the Church.

 

I personally know many, many people who have walked away from Christianity entirely. They read the Bible, they see what the Bible says true Christianity looks like, and they’re just honest – the Bible does not describe what we see in the Church today. The closest thing to “miracles” that are happening in the Church today are often easily explained with no need for a “miracle” whatsoever.

 

These aren’t the kinds of miracles we see in the Bible! The miracles in the Bible were undeniable. They were obvious. No one could question it – even those who wanted to![20] Most of the “miracles” seen today fall so far short of what the Bible describes that many people are just too honest with themselves to pretend like it’s the same thing.

 

No one who knew God in the Bible experienced life like most Christians do today. No one in the early Church experienced Christianity like this. The Bible describes something so very different than anything most people see happening in the Church today.

 

So, a lot of people decide the Bible must not be true.

 

They leave.

 

Why? Why does the Bible describe something so different than what we experience? Why does the Bible promise things that don’t happen? Does this mean the Bible is not true? Does this mean Christianity is all a lie?

 

Most Christians either give up on Christianity, or they push these questions away because they’re afraid that they’re doubting. They ignore these questions and they ignore the fact that their lives don’t look like the Bible. They think that faith means being blind to facts. They think that faith means thinking something is true despite the fact that they can see with their own eyes that something is wrong. They think that faith means never asking any questions.

 

But as we said in an earlier video, that’s not the right response. Peter told us to make every effort to be certain that we are called and chosen.[21] Peter was saying this is the most important thing, so work really hard and make every effort to make sure that you are truly walking in the light. We’re not making every effort to be certain that we’re called and chosen if we just ignore the fact that our lives don’t look like what the Bible says Christianity should look like!

 

Christians are afraid to ask questions. But that’s entirely irresponsible! Asking questions is not what it means to doubt. Asking questions is how you learn!

 

The Bible warns us that many people will be deceived – they will think they are Christians when they really are not. They will think they’re following Jesus, when they’re not. They will think they’re alive, when they’re really still dead. They will call Jesus “Lord” and he will say, “I never knew you.” [22]

 

They are deceived.

 

How do they become deceived? Because when the deceivers came, teaching a Christianity that didn’t at all line up with what the Bible said, they told people not to ask any questions. They told people that asking is doubting, and the Bible says not to doubt. But when the Bible says not to doubt, in the original Greek, it doesn’t say doubt. It says waver. It’s saying “don’t waver” or in other words, “don’t go back and forth between two different things.” It’s not talking about what you believe. It’s talking about your loyalties. It’s talking about fidelity. It’s talking about your reliability.

 

As we’ve been talking about throughout this series, faith in Ancient Greek didn’t mean faith. It meant fidelity. It meant loyalty. It meant believing and obeying at the same time. Faith and faithfulness. It wasn’t about what information you believed to be accurate, it was about who you both trusted and obeyed.

 

So, you’re allowed to ask questions! Asking questions isn’t wavering. Wavering is when you want both God and this world at the same time, and you’re going back and forth and you can’t decide which one you’re going to live for. It’s when your loyalties are divided. But asking questions is not wavering. Accusing God is wrong, but asking a question isn’t wrong. Asking is simply when you want to learn. If you’re asking God a question because you trust that there’s an answer that you simply don’t understand, you’re not doubting! You’re demonstrating more faith than most Christians have! Most Christians are afraid to ask because deep down they’re afraid that maybe the Bible is not true.

 

So, ask away! Feel free to ask God questions. Ask him what’s wrong. Ask him what has to change. Ask him, “Why does the Bible make promises and say that my life should look a certain way, but it doesn’t, and no one I know that calls themselves a Christian has a life that looks the way the Bible says it should? Why does Christianity today lack the power of God that we read about in the Bible? Why does Christianity today seem so different?”

 

As it turns out… the Bible has that answer.

 

Not only does it have the answer, but it told us ahead of time that this would happen. The fact that Christianity today seems void of the power of God is actually proof that what the Bible says is true. When Paul described the apostasy that he said would one day fill the Church, when he was saying that the Church would fall away and the Church would live for themselves and they wouldn’t be true Christians. This is what he said:

 

“Remember this! In the last days there will be terrible times, because people will love themselves, love money, brag, and be arrogant. They will say evil things against others and will not obey their parents or be grateful or be holy. They will not love others, will refuse to forgive, will gossip, and will not control themselves. They will be cruel, will not love what is good, will be traitors, and will be reckless. They will be conceited, will love pleasure instead of God...”[23]

 

Throughout this series, we’ve already talked about how this description is a description of the Church – it’s not a description of the world. Paul concluded this whole paragraph by saying “avoid these people,”[24] and he wrote elsewhere that whenever he told Christians to avoid certain people, he was not talking about those in the world. He was talking about those who call themselves brothers or sisters, yet live that way.[25] So here, when Paul gave this description and then said to avoid these people, he was saying that people who call themselves brothers and sisters will live this way. In other words, this whole description is a description of Christians.

 

Throughout this series, we’ve already talked about how the Church today is full of people who love themselves, they love money, they’re not holy, they don’t love others, they don’t love what is good, and they love pleasure instead of God. Their definitions of all these words are wrong; they don’t think it describes them, but it does. And, it’s the majority of Christians. It’s the majority of people who will watch this series.

 

If we understand what the Bible says these things mean, and what God says they mean, it’s clear that this whole description Paul gave is a perfectly accurate description of the Church today – not from our perspective, but from God’s perspective. He wasn’t describing some end-times scenario that is still going to happen someday. He was describing our current reality. We tend to not see it because we tend to not recognize that things haven’t always been the way they are now. We were born into this reality, so we fail to see that Paul was describing a change that took place before we were even born. We read about the early Church, and we associate ourselves with them despite the fact that our lifestyles, our love, our holiness, and our priorities demonstrate that we’re nothing like the biblical description of the early Church. Paul’s description in this passage perfectly paints the picture of how God sees the modern Church:

 

Their lives are about themselves. Money is their priority. They talk bad about each other. They don’t demonstrate the radical love of Jesus taught in Scripture. They often don’t forgive. They gossip about one another. They lack self-control. They don’t love what God says is good. They love pleasure instead of God. And when Paul described this terrible state of the apostate Church, he added at the end: “...having an appearance of godliness, but will not have its power.”[26]

 

The Church today lacks the power of God that we read about in the Bible because the Church today doesn’t have the same relationship with God that we read about in the Bible. The Church today is apostate.

 

So many Christians want to see the power of God that we read about in the Bible. They want to see the Spirit move. They want to see miracles. They want to encounter God in incredible ways. They want to experience the promises in Scripture. They want to experience the life Jesus promised to those who follow him. But they don’t know where to start. They don’t know where to start because they don’t know what’s wrong. They know something’s wrong, but they don’t know how to fix it. They know something’s wrong, but they can’t figure out why! It’s because their whole perspective is wrong. They read the Bible from the perspective of a modern Christian in the Western world, and not from God’s perspective.

 

They don’t recognize that it’s not just the “lack of power” that’s wrong. It’s everything.

 

If Christians truly want to see this change, they need to be willing to tear everything down and build from scratch. They need to reject American Christianity. They need to reject modern Christianity and everything about it – all the comforts and all the things that modern Christianity tells us it’s okay for us to have. They need to reject all the things that we’ve come to accept as “true Christianity” that the early Church never did, and would never have done in a million years. We need to stop giving our money to buildings and staff, and we need to give our money to the poor. We need to stop putting our money towards “projects,” Christian art, Christian film, and Christian music, and we need to give our money to those who are in need. That’s what the Bible teaches. We need to be willing to reject everything about modern Christianity. We need to be willing to walk away from it. We need to recognize that God says our modern Christianity is apostasy, that it is honoring him with our lips while our hearts are far from him.[27] If you do not do what he wants, you do not love him. That is not true Christianity.

 

If Christians want to see the power of God, they need to be willing to tear everything down and build from scratch.

 

They need to forget all the things men have taught them, and all the religious traditions of men. They need to recognize that Paul said that this lack of power is a symptom of apostasy. Therefore, it requires a fundamental change. It requires Christians to go to Scripture instead of teachers and ask God to show them everything in their lives that must change. It requires Christians to transform from “an appearance of godliness” to actual godliness.

 

Throughout the rest of this video (and coming videos), we’re going to look at the kind of life Jesus promised. We’re going to look at what the Christian life is supposed to look like, and we’re going to look at what the Bible says we must do in order to have that kind of life.

 

[1] Ref. Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5-6

[2] Ref. Genesis 6-9

[3] Ref. Genesis 14, 18, 19:23-29

[4] Ref. Exodus 5-14, 16-17; Numbers 11

[5] Ref. Joshua 3-4, 6, 10:1-14

[6] Ref. Judges 6-7

[7] Ref. 1 Samuel 3-25:1, 3:19-21

[8] Ref. 1 Samuel 17, 18:5-7, 23:1-6, 19-20, 23:7-29, 24, 26, 30

[9] Ref. 1 Kings 17:1-9, 17:10-24, 18; 2 Kings 2:1-12

[10] Ref. 2 Kings 5:1-19, 6:1-7, 13:14-21

[11] Ref. Isaiah 6:1-8

[12] Ref. Daniel 6, 7-12

[13] Ref. Daniel 3

[14] Ref. Acts 3, 8:5-8, 9:17-18, 9:32-35, 14:8-10, 28:7-9

[15] Ref. Acts 2:41, 2:47, 6:1, 9:31, 9:35, 9:42, 11:21, 11:24, 13:43, 14:1, 16:5, 17:4

[16] Ref. Acts 9:36-43, 20:7-12

[17] Ref. Acts 2:17, 7:54-56, 9:10-16, 10:9-20, 16:9-10

[18] Ref. 2 Corinthians 12:1-6

[19] Ref. Matthew 17:20, 21:18-22; Mark 11:22-24; Luke 17:6; John 14:12-14, 15:7, 16:23-24

[20] Ref. John 9:1-34; Acts 4:14

[21] Ref. 2 Peter 1:10

[22] Ref. Matthew 7:15-27, 13:19; Mark 13:5-6; Acts 20:29-31; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 4:1-4; 2 Peter 2; 1 John 2:18-27; Jude; Revelation 3:1-2

[23] 2 Timothy 3:1-4

[24] Ref. 2 Timothy 3:5

[25] Ref. 1 Corinthians 5:9-13

[26] 2 Timothy 3:5

[27] Ref. Matthew 15:3-9

Copyright 2020 Acts Initiative

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