GLEANINGS FROM THE SCRIPTURES
By Keith L. Estes
In their book Middle East Meltdown John Ankerberg and Dillon Burroughs write about Religion In the Last Days. They state that: People Will Depart from the Faith. The faith refers to the essential doctrines, the foundational truths that make up Christianity…The divine nature of Christ, the atoning death of Christ on the cross for our sins, the physical resurrection of Christ from the dead, the promise of the resurrection of all believers, the doctrine of the Trinity, and Christ’s imminent second coming. Pulpit Helps reported the significant findings of a survey of 7,441 Protestant pastors who responded to the question: “Do you believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead?” The results showed that 51 percent of Methodists, 35 percent of Presbyterians, 30 percent of Episcopalians, and 33 percent of American Baptists did not believe in the physical resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It is devastating to think that pastors can continue serving in the ministry even though they deny such a foundational doctrine to the Christian faith…
Another area in which people are abandoning the faith is the central belief that Jesus is the risen Son of God. According to the most recent Barna survey, 39 percent of the American population can be defined as “notional Christians.” Barna defines Notional Christians as those who describe themselves as Christians, but do not believe that they will have eternal life because of their reliance upon the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the grace extended to people through a relationship with Jesus Christ. (A large majority of these individuals believe they will have eternal life, but not because of a grace-based relationship with Jesus Christ.)
A Newsweek/Beliefnet poll revealed that a shocking number of people who call themselves evangelical and born-again have come to reject those words. The question in the poll read: “Can a good person who isn’t of your religious faith go the heaven or attain salvation, or not?” According to the poll, comprised of more than 1,000 adults 18 years of age and older, 68 percent of evangelical Christians believe “good” people of other faiths can also go to heaven. Nationally, 79 percent of those surveyed said the same thing, with an astounding 91-percent agreement among Catholics. Beliefnet spokesman Steven Waldman called the results “pretty amazing.” (If just being good entitles a person to have eternal life, then why would God waste His Son on the cross?)
The results of these polls reveal that people are, in fact, departing from the faith. Such Christianity resembles the lukewarm church at Laodicea that John, the Apostle, mentions in Revelation 3:14-22.
“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
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