Let me begin by stating catergorically that i am not an alarmist - but trumpets do have a distinctive sound!. And In the confusing contemporary world of modern Christianity both weird and the wonderful things are happening before us! Everything from Angel dust, to gold fillings, to Healing waters, miracle weight loss, Holy oil, miracle prayer cloths, angelic visions, deep sleeps, visits to heaven (ad-infinitum) Never before in the church has there been a need to seperate the true from the bogus! But here's the thing Seperating the true from the false Is often a fine line! Which is blurred by the egos of false teachers, deciever's, and religious racketeers. Masquearading itself as Truth!
Religious racketeering comes to us in many shapes and sizes. The religious world today is being "softened up" and "dumbed down" ( which is the dumbing down of the mind) You see ive always contended Subjectivity does not mean loss of objectivity. Now I speak as unto wise men, judge ye what i say?
We are summoned by God to be wise as Serpents! yet harmless as doves! We are not called not to be critical of people or attack them, but to use reasoning - and remain objective! Using your spiritual smarts to discriminate between both good and evil ...And that is not a crime!
But harking back now to this thing of the "dumbing down of the mind" We see this in evidence in Acts chapter eight with simon the sorceror BEWITCHING THEM BY SORCERIES and again over in Galations chapter three Paul asks the question "WHO HATH BEWITHCHED YOU"? as false brethren brought in unawares - had led them back to salvation by the deeds of the law (works salvation) causing the saints at galatia to fall from grace! PAUL SAID WHO HAS DONE THIS? WHO HAS BEWITCHED YOU? WHO HAS BRAINWASHED YOU? Why aren't you thinking? IM AFRAID OF YOU, HAVE I BESTOWED SO MUCH LABOUR IN VAIN? AND AM I NOW BECOME YOUR ENEMY, BECAUSE I TELL YOU THE TRUTH? HAVE YOU SUFFERED SO MANY THINGS IN VAIN? WHERE HAS REASONING AND OBJECTIVITY GONE! Why are you listening to another gospel and to false brethren.
Today we see religious rackets in many different forms - some of it very neatly packaged. Whilst others coming in cloaks of coveteousness! Paul said speaking @ Thessalonica " At no time did we use flattering words, or use cloaks of coveteousness" God is our witness". And It's at this point we now refer to a common problem in the Church - as it exists today!
RELIGIOUS RACKET NUMBER #1 Lust For Power
Now in acts chapter eight we have an account of a man named Simon - who often times bewithced the people of Samaria with sorceries. For all the inhabitants of Samaria from the least of them to the greatest - said one another" (this man is the great power of God) But the author of the book of Acts enlightens us the reader - that this so called power on display was none other than "sorcery". ( reading on) And to him they had regard (for longtime) because he bewithched them with sorceries! He must have put on some show! I'd say - to have an entire city ...spellbound! (Giving out - he was some Great One)!
LET'S READ FURTHER: Now Simon upon believing the things Philip preached, also believed and continued With the apostles - observing them from a distance (and Witnessing the real power of God instead of counterfeit)
And when Simon "saw" through the laying on of hands the Holy ghost was given - something happened and twigged on the inside of him! And
Simon no longer could hold back - AND OFFERED THE APOSTLES MONEY! Saying give me this power also! You see Simon never lost his desire (lust) for power! or for the supernatural. However Simon being sharply rebuked by Peter was told to repent quickly - for thinking the gift of God could be bought by money! and saying "thou hast neither part, nor lot in this matter"! Whoa
RELIGIOUS RACKET NO 2. "SPIRITUAL OUTBREAKS"
This one comes in the form of "gimmick" "moves of God" that are confined to a certain Locations the advocates of "spiritual outbreaks" teach people the annointing is restricted to certain areas or places. And say this is where it's happening" (come and see) for yourself! So the thinking is - people think their missing out on God - if they don't travel and come to that place where it's all happening! The rationale here one needs to get board a plane (or) do the cross country trek in the SUV ... in order to partake of the blessing and move of God!
Folks I don't know about you - but i seek God daily and have not been told once to GO! Nor where it was going to happen next! Apperently God didn't confide or communicate this information to me. But it never occured to me that i might be missing out!! Consider this truth brethren from both paul and stephen "God doesn't dwell in temples made by men's hands" - "WHAT HOUSE WILL YE BUILD ME SEEING HEAVEN IS MY THRONE AND THE EARTH IS MY FOOTSTOOL"? (what house will you build then)? or that is large enough to contain God?. Seeing he fills heaven and earth. What im saying is religious leaders are teaching - God dwells or hovers in a "special way" over a particular place, altar, place or location!
But truth is - God is Omnipresent and is already everywhere! and is capable of visiting me and touching me - no matter where i am - or live. The psalmist said this "Even if I make MY bed in hell, HE IS THERE "
Now doubtless - God can fill any place with his presence and power! But to suggest any one person or place has a monopoly on God - is simply not true or biblical. This thinking implies we are missing out if we don't catch a flight and travel to toronto, pensacola, or Lakeland.
RELIGIOUS RACKETEERING #3. ENTERTAINMENT NIGHTS
It was recently made known to the Australian public that up to 80% of all contestants Who Auditioned for a well known singing programme were young people coming from the mainline churches. All seeking to be the next Idol or national celebrity! The next star and icon. What's even sadder is - The churches support them doing this and auditioning! Even sending in the text votes to help them compete. As Christians we are called to keep ourselves from idols, and keep ourselves unspotted from the World! To come out from amongt them and be seperate. "what fellowship has light with darkness"? In order to win these contests one has to share a house and live with non-christians who rebel rouse, get drunk, have parties, take God's name in vain, carouse, use profanity, gossip, backbite. Hardly an enviroment conducive to godly living! The apostle John commended the youth of his day "for overcoming evil and the evil one" and "for being strong in the Word" aGod warned the children of Israel not to do - after the DOING'S OF THE EGYPTIANS - The warning was "DON'T GO BACK TO THE FLESHPOTS OF EGYPT" run for your life and don't look back! IT shouldn't be a case of how much can i partake of the world's amusements, but rather how far can i get away! fleeing youthful lusts!and being an example - of true holiness!
RELIGIOUS RACKET #4 "Robbers of churches"
This is taken from a passage in the book of acts 19:37 The town clerk refuted any notion that paul was a blasphemer of the great goddess dianna. Neither were they robbers of churches! We see already in the early church among pagans existed a mind-set that all preachers wanted from you, was your money! Or to fleece the flock.
Paul said at Corinth he sought not yours (lucre) but you (the individual) and i will not be burdensome to anyone - he exclaimed.
Now money is - and always will be the biggest test of human character. Jesus gave the illustration that if you can't be trusted with the unrighteous mammon of the world, how can trusted you with the true riches (souls)? Hmmm. Today we have rackets in the form of the following gimmicks
~ For every donation of $100.oo you will recieve this beautifully leather hand bound and personally signed autographed book of mine!
~ Or this - All gifts and donations are warmly recieved and welcome! but cheques with no clear direction/ allocation - will be deemed to be used at the discretion of this ministry! And for what purpose we allocate it too. Hmmm I would have thought an emotionally written cheque for some disaster fund or for orphanage - would quite often fail (by the writer) to give clear instruction where it was meant to go! But the honest thing for you as a ministry, would be to seek communication first with the contributor, before one goes and spends it - as you deem fit! It borders on taking advantage of emotions - and on human sentiment - otherwise. Paul said "renouncing the hidden things of dishonesty, that the ministry be not blamed!
~~ Other rackets include the renting out of Church premises for secularized events during weekdays to increase church revenue! The ends justifies the means is the justification for doing this! We just provide the facility and make it available - and collect the money afterwards - that's all! So would that reasoning then allow for a "star trek convention" or a "harry potter festival" - one wonders where the the line is drawn?. Considering the next sunday @ church if someone even attempts to carry coffee or food through the church - he or she is confronted by an usher standing in their way - telling them in no uncertain terms - "this is God's house" and no food is allowed in here! In closing i suppose not even all the books in the world could contain all of the gimmicks that go on today in (the name of religion)