The Chairman's Letter
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Bishop Samuel Smith
The Chairman's Letter
The Chairman's Letter
Bishop Samuel Smith is honored among Apostolics across the globe as a modern day Apostle. His views and insights target the contemporary Apostolic Church's most pressing needs. Bishop is the General Chairman of the Apostolic World Christian Fellowship [AWCF]. He travels the world as a vibrant crusader for Christ and the Apostolic Message.
For a transcript of this and past articles from Bishop Smith click here
"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" (I Timothy 4:1).
After a lifetime of ministry and just ordinary life experience, I find it amazing how often the spiritual mirrors the natural.
During the 1960's I recall reading a book entitled None Dare Call it Treason, the premise being that during the Cold War between the Western democracies and the Soviet Union dominated bloc of nations, featuring undercover spies and high tech espionage, the governments of the USA and Great Britain were infiltrated at the highest levels by secretive communist agents. Then, those loyal citizens who spoke out against the infiltration of communists, were accused of conducting witch hunts. Many, who were only trying to do their patriotic duty, were considered radicals and crazies. Much like today when one speaks out about the dangers of radical Islam he is accused of being a "racist" or an insensitive "religious zealot". I remember during that time, the name "Joe McCarthy" was a joke, and the term "McCarthyism" became synonymous with wild intolerance and reckless accusations.
Senator McCarthy had sound information about communist infiltration and tried to use his influence to purge the infiltrators from our government. He was ridiculed, accused, and condemned by a country weary with bad news and worn by the hardships of the just recently concluded World War II; a nation preoccupied with the desire to move on to a new era of peace and prosperity. Senator McCarthy's warnings for the most part fell on deaf ears and he died in disgrace. Others, seeing his fate became intimidated and gave up their efforts to sound the alarm, and the Soviet espionage in high places continued virtually unchecked. Thus, the watchmen were silenced, the infiltration continued; thereafter, causing the inspiration for the book, None Dare Call it Treason.
Decades later, after the fall of communism in the old Soviet Union and the East bloc nations of Europe; uncovered secret files revealed that indeed, at that time, communists had moles (spies) all through the highest levels of the governments of both, the United States and Great Britain. Many of the problems that we face today are the fruits of the corrupted seeds that were sown unchallenged during that period. Because of the damage that was inflicted during those years of inattention, we are reaping weakness, mayhem, and discord today. At a critical point in our history, our government lacked focus and ignored the facts, basically, because "none dared call it what it was, Treason."
We are now living in the most challenging time of mankind's history, naturally and spiritually. Never has humanity been so advanced, with such potential for good or evil, and never has it stood on such a brink of unimaginable disaster; Jesus called it, "...the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:8). Apostle Paul warned, "...in the last days perilous times shall come" (II Timothy 3:1). Jesus foretold the threat of deception that would prevail in the end-time, "...if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" (Matthew 24:24). Furthermore, he asked: "...when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8)
One of the greatest revivalists of the 20th century, Leonard Ravenhill, wrote in his masterpiece, Why Revival Tarries; "God's problem today is not communism, nor yet Romanism, nor liberalism, nor modernism. God's problem is---dead fundamentalism! This generation of preachers is responsible for this generation of sinners...Sin today is both glamorized and popularized, thrown into the ear by radio, thrown into the eye by television, and splashed on popular magazine covers. Church-goers, sermon-sick and teaching-tired, leave the meeting as they entered it---visionless and passionless! Oh God, give this perishing generation ten thousand John the Baptists."
No problem has ever been solved until the cause has been discovered and remedied. To continue with business as usual guarantees that nothing will change. The painful truth is that today many in the American and Western European churches are indifferent, luke-warm and even "backslidden;" but, none dare call them backslidden for fear of the push-back and negative repercussions. Too often when one preaches discipline and self-denial, he is accused of being "judgmental;" to preach values, boundaries and standards, he is accused of promoting "legalism."
Fortunately, the Old Testament prophets did not hold back, they called it like it was; Jeremiah lamented, "Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? They hold fast deceit, they refuse to return" (Jeremiah 8:5). His warning was unmistakable, "Jerusalem was deceived and blind to their errors, and he called it 'sliding back,' away from God!" Our prayer must be for anointed preaching that identifies the problem and calls the people back to God.
"Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth." - John Wesley
At a time when Satan reigns as the "prince and power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2), and has declared war upon the saints, (see Revelation chapter 12); Islam is spreading worldwide, the TV programs, American Idol and Dancing With The Stars, are the rage of America; the economy crumbles, the dollar declines, and the shadow of One World Government, the New World Order looms; and...the modern church is luke-warm; "So then because thou art luke-warm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:16).
Multitudes of church-goers are caught up in worldliness, "...lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away" (II Timothy 3:4-5). So many, hop from church to church, trying to find just the right tone to suit their ears. Apostle Paul warned Timothy that the time will come when backslidden believers will pile on teachers (can't get enough of them) who support their deceived lifestyles; "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" (II Timothy 4:3-4).
Jesus warned those who would confuse their priorities, the worldly and the eternal; "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled" (John 6:26).
"Preaching has become all about the happiness of man and not the glory of God." - Greg Gordon
Today, few in the American/Western European (first world) churches are really on fire for the Lord, nor are they living up to their spiritual destiny, and they really have no idea what that that destiny should be, nor do they care, because they are so caught up with the cares of this life. "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (I John 2:15). Let us finally call it like it is; they are backslidden! Stop making excuses for those who want to find a reason they cannot serve God. Saints are victors not victims, we are called to be over-comers. Too many who call themselves Christians, lay out of church, or just plain quit, because they are offended, too tired, too busy; their life-styles are indistinguishable from the world; but, it is always someone else's fault. No, they are backslidden, they love the world. They need to recognize their status and follow the admonition of Jesus; "Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent" (Revelation 2:5). Preachers, the responsibility rests upon us; "Cry aloud, and spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression..." (Isaiah 58:1)
"Get rid of this bunkum about the 'carnal Christian'. Forget it! If you are carnal, you are not saved."---Leonard Ravenhill
A recent national poll reported that an average of 1500 leave the ministry every month across the USA. Neighborhood churches are closing their doors throughout America while mega-churches continue to grow; but, the same poll reports that over 80% of the mega-church growth is the transitioning of people who are leaving the smaller churches and are drawn to the more attractive big-time operations. Numbers and size are impressive; but, when people leave commitment and Bible discipline behind and become just a pew-sitter, and as the old saying goes, "just another brick in the wall," the statistics show, that 75% those who transition, phase out within two years, stop attending anywhere on a regular basis. However, the migration from the shrinking local churches continues to the extent that the attendance remains high in the mega-churches; in spite of the revolving door phenomenon there are enough newcomers to keep the mega-churches numbers high. Sadly, the end results are: a growing number of shepherds give up, local churches close, people become lost in the shuffle, little or no commitment, and many eventually stop completely, all the while the world needs a vibrant local church in every neighborhood! And...NONE DARE CALL THEM BACKSLIDDEN!
"The weakness of so many modern Christians is that they feel too much at home in the world. In their effort to achieve restful adjustment to unregenerate society they have lost their pilgrim character and become an essential part of the very moral order against which they are sent to protest. The world recognizes them and accepts them for what they are. And this is the saddest thing that can be said about them. They are not lonely, but neither are they saints."---A.W. Tozer
And...None dare call them backslidden!
"For years, we have seen the gradual watering-down of the gospel message, and God's people did nothing. For the past 50 years, we have been watching seeker-friendly Christianity and cheap gospel being preached all across the land, and God's people just went along. For years, we have seen the desperate need for the gospel to be beamed into millions of homes with radios and televisions. God has given us the technology to do that, so Christians give a couple of dollars in the offering plate and thought they were the last of the big spenders."---Dr. Michael Youssef
And...None dare call them backslidden!
Note the following quotes from some of the most prestigious church specialists of our time. Their pronouncements are severe; but, we need a wake-up call!
The late Presbytarian TV preacher, Dr. D. James Kennedy said that he doubted if 25% of professing Christians were truly born again.
The noted revivalist, Leonard Ravenhill, was even more pessimistic than Dr. Kennedy, saying; "I doubt that more than two percent of professing Christians in the United States are truly born again."
"If less than 10% of Americans are saved, then over half the people who go to church on Sunday are horribly deceived. Every poll, every statistical analysis, every internal and external church study shows what every evangelist and pastor knows: The majority of people who go to church in America are the moral equivalent of heathen."---Patrick McIntyre
"50% of people who go to church are lost."---Dr. Rod Bell, president of the Fundamental Baptist Fellowship of America
"Many who call themselves Christians are not really Biblical Christians at all. Although they may be religious people who attend church regularly, they have never experienced the new birth and personal relationship with Jesus Christ."---Bill Bright, Campus Crusade
"Of the 80% of Americans who claim to be Christian, few live any differently from pagans or atheists, as though God has no claim on their lives."---Evangelist Luis Palau
"The majority of Americans are dabbling in religious expression that has no substance."--- Dr. James Dobson
"Probably less than one out of ten evangelicals knows anything experientially about the new birth."--- A.W. Tozer
The question begs an answer: "If so many who think they are saved, are not, then why do they think they are saved?" Because, "None dare call them backslidden!" Thus, the warning of the scriptures is validated; "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?" (Jeremiah 5:31) "For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 29:9). The pulpit must not be intimidated by carnal accusers who scream "judgmentalism when we preach scriptural values, and "legalism" when we declare Biblical boundaries. We cannot shrink from truthful declaration when it is merited, declaring; "You are backslidden!" "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Romans 10:14)
"Elijah lived with God. He thought about the nation's sin like God; he grieved over sin like God; he spoke against sin like God. He was all passion in his prayers and passionate in his denunciation of evil in the land. He had no smooth preaching. Passion fired his preaching, and his words were on the hearts of men as molten metal on their flesh." - Leonard Ravenhill
"Today God is bypassing men - - not because they are too ignorant, but because they are too self-sufficient. Brethren, our abilities are our handicaps, and our talents our stumbling blocks!" - Leonard Ravenhill
We have a choice, we are at the crossroads, we must simply declare the gospel, "For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?" (I Corinthians 14:8) We must redeem the time that is being wasted, baby-sitting roller coaster "up and down," high maintenance, "want-to-be saints." Too long we have contended with preacher- fighting, church-hopping malcontents, who inevitably find the "welcome mat" out somewhere, thus, perpetuating their errors and insulating them from the only message that can save them, repent! Preachers can no longer spend another day just maintaining a social club for those who only desire a religious slant to their otherwise mundane and worldly lives. We desperately need a revival where people truly get "born again!" We need to see people really get saved and stay saved. Jesus came "to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10). If anyone can be find salvation aside from the terms of the New Testament Church, the New Birth, Christ's passion, His shed blood, the atonement; then, the crucifixion was the biggest waste, and the apostles perpetuated the biggest fraud, in the history of mankind!
"Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him."---Dietrich Bonhoehoffer, the German theologian martyred by Hitler's Nazi regime.
Would Jesus have been crucified if he had preached the politically-correct, people-friendly messages of today; thus, endorsing the "nickels and noses" doctrine; "nickels" in the offering plate and "noses" in the pews? Would He have been content to count the weekly attendance, make the bank deposits, and then rested in the delusion that numbers equaled eternal success?
Gilbert Tennent was used mightily of God in the First Great Awakening; hear him condemn the man-pleasing preaching in his day: "They comfort people before they convince them; sow before they plough; and are busy in raising a fabric before they lay a foundation. These foolish builders strengthen men's carnal security by their soft, selfish, cowardly discourses. They have not the courage or honesty to thrust the nail of terror into the sleeping souls!"
Jesus fed the 5,000 because he loved them and he desperately cared for them; but, that did not prevent him from proclaiming the way to salvation for their eternal souls. Nevertheless, those very people who had just experienced a major miracle, the multiplication of the fish and the loaves, walked away from him when he preached the message of commitment and self-denial. It is quite clear that his loving motive and clear instructions was not the "people-friendly" message that is so prevalent today, or else they would have stayed. He knew their hearts, he knew what they would do, but, he expounded the road to everlasting life anyway, knowing that they would walk away. He did not trade truth for numbers. God is more concerned about our eternal security, than our momentary pleasure! When Jesus asked Peter if he would leave with the others, to Peter's eternal credit, he answered; "Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life" (John 6:68). It is apparent that "eternal life" is gained only by accepting the terms described by Jesus; but, sadly rejected by the multitude. It is the same today.
There can be no question in any rational mind, why Jesus would give such a man as Peter, the "keys of the kingdom?" Contrast the scene of Jesus and Peter with the mega-churches of our time, and prayerfully consider the errors of many once spiritual shepherds who are now moving from the "old landmarks" into new territory. It is only reasonable to ask, "In which direction are they progressing?" Jesus warned of a day of great deception, when even the elect would be deceived, and cried out, "...when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8)
"If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this."---C.S. Lewis
"Eternity to the saved is day with no sunset; to the lost it is night with no sunrise."
It is quite apparent that Paul's gospel, as declared to King Agrippa, was not some bland "politically-correct message;" because, as attracted as Agrippa was to Paul's preaching, there was too much self-denial and dramatic lifestyle change implied, that he responded to Paul, "Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian" (Acts 26:28). Likewise, how many are so torn today, due to their abiding love for the world that they are "almost persuaded;" only willing to come to Christ on their own terms? "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (I John 2:15).
King Solomon, endowed with more wisdom than any man before or since said, twice; "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12 and 16:25). Those "world loving" souls will never travel the Calvary road as long as they find churches and ministries that compound their errors and permit them to believe that they are saved without fully committing to the fundamental truths taught by Christ. How can it be today that so many who live scandalous lives that resemble nothing of the Christ-life, are so easily assimilated into the so-called church? They have no problem practicing a non-biblical gospel, and..."none dare call them backslidden."
"I am convinced that many evangelicals are not truly and soundly converted. Among the evangelicals it is entirely possible to come into membership, to ooze in by osmosis, to leak through the cells of the church and never know what it means to be born of the Spirit and washed in the blood." - A.W. Tozer
Today, it is alarming, the silence in the pulpits relative to the vital issues of our time. There are not Ten Suggestions, there are Ten Commandments. The New Birth is not a suggestion, it is a commandment! In this late hour, the pulpit, in certain terms, must declare the full counsel of God to the sinner, encourage the believer, and warn the backslider. Apostle Paul's warning continues to ring more true every day; "For if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle" (I Corinthians 14:8).
"If my people which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (II Chronicles 7:14).
Sssin, ssstill hasss the hisss of the ssserpent, and isss ssso deadly! "Ye will not die," was the message, dripping with deception, from the serpent in the Garden of Eden to Eve, relative to God's reasonable commandment. He lied then, he lies now. The wages of sin is still the same,...death! (See Romans 6:23).
"Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins" (Isaiah 58:1). Sadly, it is apparent that God's people are capable of returning to their sinful ways,... "backsliding".
"So then because thou art luke-warm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:16). Spue means to vomit. The luke-warm Christian makes God sick. Why? Because they have backslid. What could be worse than turning one's back to the cross, walking over the blood of Christ and returning to the very world from which Jesus came to seek and to save?
"For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But, it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, the dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire" (II Peter 2:20-22). Apostle Peter, the man with the "keys" was not afraid to call it like it is; he dared to call them backslidden!
"God is not looking for brilliant men, is not depending upon eloquent men, is not shut up to the use of talented men in sending His gospel out into the world. God is looking for broken men who have judged themselves in the light of the cross of Christ. When He wants anything done, He takes up men who have come to the end of themselves, whose confidence is not in themselves, but in God." - H.A. Ironside
There is no more somber message in the New Testament, nor for that matter, sitting on the shelves of any library in the world, than the following; it deserves every believers attention: "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to open shame" (Hebrews 6:4-6). According to this scripture, "falling away" is fatal. It is shaming Christ and "crucifying him afresh!" What could be worse?
Sliding back is just one step short of falling away. If anyone fears falling away, and everyone should, then they must not slide back!
The time has come, and is now, for every watchman to put the trumpet to his mouth and proclaim the Day of the Lord! God is just, He is one, His name must be revered, the day reserved for His final judgment is approaching; souls must be warned, and when the occasion call for it, the backslider must be told the painful truth.
God is love; it is His pleasure to forgive; His mercy endureth forever. When the issue of backslidden souls is honestly addressed, the following promise stands out in large red letters: "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him" (Hosea 14:4).