Imagine attending your local church one Sunday morning and anticipating hearing a word from the Lord. Your pastor announces to the spiritual hungry congregation that he feels “the Lord is shifting the direction and focus of the church.” With excitement, your heart races for the unknown, and then your pastor reveals the new slogan for the church – “Love God and Love People.” On the surface, this sounds very biblical and godly. But is it really?

In this reading, we will attempt to dive below the surface, and uncover the misleading and dangerous format that has appealed to the hearts of the restless. Those whom ears are constantly itching for the new revelation, as well as those who have been abused by unscriptural authority. I pray that this article will arrest the nature of readers and compel them to reexamine their hearts and direction as it relates to the scriptures. It only takes the tip of an iceberg to sink what most believe is impossible!

As we get closer to the return of Christ, scripture repeatedly warns us about End Time Deception. This deception, so convincing and believable, will be the culprit causing many to become casualties of apostasy. Apostasy, the abandonment or renunciation of ones religious beliefs, is not limited to those who will walk away from the church. Those deceived will also include believers that defect from the truth or original path, change courses, or profess Christianity but deny both essential and historical truths. In the Last Day, deception will not be accidental or by happenstance. People will make a deliberate choice of the heart, will, and desire, to forsake ancient biblical truths and stray from the original pathway.

When we forsake one thing, it will always require us to replace it with something else. That’s just the nature of things. The apostle Paul addressed this specific issue with the Church at Corinth. In the eleventh chapter of the Second Epistle, Paul writes,

“But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he comes preaching another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different GOSPEL which you have not accepted, you may well put up with it.” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4).

Here, it is clear that Paul was very concerned that the followers of Christ were forsaking what they always knew to be true and turning to another god, another spirit, and another gospel.

God, the Holy Spirit, and the Gospel are all connected. One cannot know God of the Bible and possess His Spirit yet preach a gospel that differs from Jesus’ teaching. This is deception! Leaders profess to follow the same God and possess the same spirit, yet they are preaching a gospel that looks the same on the surface, but operates with a forged set of parameters and a very different motive. But this should come as no surprise. Paul consistently warns us that Satan, who appears as a angel of light – not an angel of “doom and gloom” – will come into the church and present not Islam, Atheism, or Wicca – a pagan, witchcraft religion, but an even Different Gospel.

The Apostle Paul warned us about a Different Gospel. The Greek word for different is heteros, and it means another of a different kind or quality. On the surface, two things may appear to be the same. However, a more thorough examination and comparison will often reveal that although they look alike, there may be significant qualitative differences.

Why is this a concern or a big deal?

Well, the quality or root of a thing is a major issue to Christ; and therefore, should be a major issue for those who follow him.

How Major?

Paul not only addressed this with the Church in Corinth but also with those in Galatia. Paul under the influence of the Holy Spirit, twice mentioned, in two separate verses, “If anyone preaches a different or another gospel to you, let him be ac-cursed.” (Galatians 1:8-9). In other words, the Holy Spirit is saying for those who preach another gospel, “let them be anathema” – eternal destruction. To know that Christ has appointed and devoted eternal damnation for those who teach and believe something that is contrary to that which is original is a major cause for concern.

You may still be wondering what does all of this have to do with “Love God and Love People.” To understand, we have to move away from the appearance, and, again, dig beneath the surface. Several years ago, George Barna, the founder of the Barna Group—a market research firm specializing in study in the religious beliefs and behavior of Americans, and the intersection of faith and culture – conducted a poll. In that poll, it was mentioned that non-Christians thought Christians were too judgmental, hypocritical, dogmatic, and unloving. The results of the poll would then rouse some young, “creative and innovative” pastors to collaborate and see how they could reverse the church stigma to make Christianity more relevant to the culture.

What this “golden calf” meeting produced was the core of what we see today. Churches, (1) changing their name to reflect a more relevant, bold tone; (2) removing anything that “seemed” like it was part of tradition Christianity; and (3) surveying their communities to learn what the people desired to see and hear in the church. What soon followed was the slippery slope – a removal of doctrine and expositional teaching and preaching. There was an overwhelming zeal for churches to distance themselves from the hard, “narrow-minded beliefs” that had made Christians seem insensitive. And in the process of becoming more benevolent, the church neglected sound doctrine – the one thing that’s imperative to building maturity, character, and strength in the sheep. Without it, the people cannot be equipped to evangelize at home, in the workplace, to their families, friends, etc.

So there it went! OUT with doctrine and IN with sermons and conferences about fulfilling my “felt” needs, maximizing my potential, reaching my goals, finding my purpose, being significant, living my best life, etc. Needless to say, the extent of duplicity did not end there. The adjustments made to create a seeker-friendly environment would definitely appeal to the non-Christians. But now those that elevated comfort above doctrine, had to persuade the people already in the pews to abandon the formats – structures and standards – that brought them to salvation.

Adopting a new concept of church would not be as difficult a process as one may have assumed. Many were already turned off by spiritual abuse, church hurt and mere boredom and sought something more entertaining. Eventually, a fresh, different idea was fashioned, and it would become the driving force behind our focused slogan, “Love God and Love People”. The latest brand of the church was called “EMERGENT”, and its theme was ”MISSIONAL”. While this may sound like the model aim or purpose of the church, it is important to recall Apostle Paul’s words and reflect on the meaning of another and different. Everything seems great on the surface, but the underlying objective is to reshape the church so that it is more attractive to the world. And with that, the True Gospel is silenced.

So, what does it mean to be “Missional”? Defining such a term can be difficult; especially, when the terms are derived from men-centered creativity having no straightforward definition. This expression has been defined, modified, redefined and changed repeatedly to fit an individual’s liking or choosing. The “on the surface” view is for people to “get out” the four walls of the church and be missionary-like in their communities. “For we all should do the work of the missionary, and not just one particular person.” Well that sounds great, especially to those who have become bored and crave for activities. But this is where the problem occurs. How can you send people out in the communities, to preach the gospel, when you have supplanted and substituted the true doctrine for teachings with that, which meets the people’s needs? People of God, THIS IS END TIME DECEPTION!!

The “Missional” premise only appears to be evangelistic – to pull in seekers, but it’s far from the church described in Acts Chapter 2 verses 40-47, and what Jesus commands in Matthew 8:18-20, which reads:

Then Peter continued preaching for a long time, strongly urging all his listeners,  “Save yourselves from this crooked generation!” Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day – about 3,000 in all. All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayers. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshipped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity – All the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. (Acts:40-47)

Jesus came and told his disciples. “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

The foundation of the Missional Movement is to change the emphasis, in a church, from outward driven evangelism with inward devotion and spiritual growth of the members, to outward focused “evangelism” with little or no serious biblical growth of those on the inside. Everything is incarnational. That means that the biblical function of the church and what goes on inside the church (doctrine, true bible study, and discipleship), is replaced by an emphasis on being trained for service in the community. There is no training on BIBLICAL evangelizing. The people are simply instructed to “show love”. Those a part of this mission movement believe the goal is to do enough good deeds for the unsaved, to show the works of Christ. This sounds easy enough, but it is not biblical!

Doing good deeds is not how the apostles reached the unsaved. Neither is it how Christ reached the unsaved. This is not what Christ teaches; therefore it’s not the gospel – it is another gospel. Saint Francis of Assisi’s quote has become the motto for the new mission, “Preach the gospel at all times. And when necessary, use words.” The flaw with this statement is that you can’t “live” the gospel. The gospel must be preached! To preach is to proclaim, tell abroad, and call out with a clear voice. Working solely to meet the needs of a community is not the biblical mandate for the church. As a matter of fact, to assume the role of meeting the needs of people, being their savior, is a form of pride. Why? Because, none of us will ever do more works for an individual than Christ. Christ did not elevate service over preaching The Uncompromising Truth. Even when people desired his help, Jesus made clear to the disciples that preaching, sharing God’s word, was the purpose for his coming. Jesus never sought to convert the souls of mankind apart from preaching the charge of repentance. (Matt. 4:12-17, Mark 1:32-39)

In all honesty, Christ’s mission was to take care of the spiritual needs of people before tending to the emotional and physical need. Note that in Mark 6:32-44, Jesus teaches the people first – giving them what they need spiritually before he fed them naturally. For us to change our approach because of unmet personal gratifications and the results of polls taken in a post-modern America culture, is bold and extremely prideful. Jesus said, “I will build my Church.” How dare we take it upon ourselves to change how it’s done without the Owner’s authorization.

So what’s the “another gospel” that is produced from this intellectual thinking? It’s a Social Gospel. A gospel that seeks and believes the surrounding unsaved “community” is part of the church, and must therefore be reached through acts of charity, social and political action, etc. Notice, again, that with this new gospel there is no preaching on the wrath of God, sin and repentance, hell, or salvation. Teaching is positive and limited to good works. Our Lord and Savior was born and raised in one of history’s most vile, corrupt, unjust, and brutal cultures. Yet he never made it his vision and goal to issue any social justice or social reform. Jesus came to set the captives free from the penalty of sin and death by turning people’s heart back to the Father through preaching. He didn’t do it through works. We do not reach people by building houses, planting trees and rooting grass in the community. Community service is good, but we can’t serve the community and call it the Gospel of Salvation. The Gospel is the teaching of Christ. There is a difference between humanitarian relief and biblical missionary work.

This is the driving force behind the slogan, “Love God, Love People”. Yes, there is nothing wrong with Loving God and Loving People. The duplicity occurs when people allow their distorted view and display of love to override doctrine and expositional teaching and preaching. When our focus is to please and meet the needs of people, we discount biblical truths so as to not offend others. And we do it under the pretense or deception of “LOVE”. Never once did Jesus water down the word or turn a blind eye (to sin) as a demonstration of love. Love is virtuous, but it must be biblical love – doing or saying what’s right in light of eternity.

You see, at the core, slogans like “Love God and Love People” has nothing to do with salvation. Here, relationship is exalt-ed above biblical teachings. This is the compelling appeal of every cult where it is common to hear things like “Loving is greater than teaching” and “We don’t need doctrine, it only divides. Just give us Jesus”. This is the justification of those in this circle. And although this disgust with division is understandable, without sound and proper teaching, one leaves him-self vulnerable to the influence of another Jesus and an unfamiliar spirit.

When you consider the reputation of those that claim to be saved, but live a life that is contrary to biblical standards, it’s not surprising to hear people say, “Those who are all about biblical doctrine and ‘tradition’ lack true love and compassion.” But all these considered, that’s a bold and hypocritical statement when it comes from those that think people who are dogmatic are too judgmental. Some of these same folks are guilty of eisegesis (importing one’s own ideas or biases into the text) when using the church at Ephesus, in Revelation chapter 2, as an example of people who lack love for God and others. The words that should be imprinted in all of our hearts are those written in Proverbs, “Do not add to his words, or he may rebuke you and expose you as a liar” (Proverbs 30:6; Rev. 2:18-19). Here, we are warned about taking away and adding to God’s word. This is something God, clearly, does not take lightly. Truth be told, the church at Ephesus left their first love as a result of obligation not doctrine. Their service to Christ had become mechanical and had taken on a contractual tone; causing them to neglect the love they had for him in the beginning.

Christ frowns upon men who serve him because they “feel” they have to. God desires the service of those who freely choose to do as they do because they love him. Matter of fact, CHOICE is the foundation of biblical love. I choose to love, despite how you treat me. I choose to love, even if I don’t receive anything in return. True love is not sentimental-ism – appealing to emotions or feelings. It’s doing what’s best for the other person in light of eternity. True love would sacrifice reputation for the sake of leading another to repentance. It always has eternity in mind, and is not concerned with seeking acceptance or admiration.

While we are on the subject of love, let us look at an interesting verse in what we call the “Love Chapter”. In 1Corin-thinas 13:3, Paul makes a striking and compelling statement. He says, “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” Have we overlooked this verse? In other words, I can feed the hungry, give money to the poor, and even give up my life, and still not have biblical love. In our culture, we have been programmed to believe that doing these things equate to me showing love. That’s wrong! It’s sad and shocking to think that another gospel has fed the hungry, housed the homeless, clothed the naked, and financially aided countless souls to hell! In the words of the late author and revivalist, Vance Havner, “If the social gospel was around during the times of the prodigal son, we would have given him a bed and a sandwich and he would have died a comfortable sinner.”

Do we, as the church, supposed to feed the poor, and visit orphans? Yes! But this is not the gospel, but rather a by-product of regenerated hearts. Biblical evangelism may seem like it’s not working, or perhaps working only at a dawdling pace. But one thing is for certain, God’s way is a proven discipline. One that renders eternal results. Christ uses Biblical Evangelism for His glory. Not for the recognition of man or man’s desire to perform activities. This “Missional” movement is a growing trend that will again change, morphing at each breaking moment. And at each turn, it will grow more and more hostile against Christ in an effort to keep up with a culture. Let this be a notice for us to return back to the scriptures, and seek to be equipped, so we are no longer tossed to and fro by every strange wind, and by the trickery of men (Ephesians 4:11-16). There are people whose souls are on the line and they need to HEAR the gospel. Hearts can only be turned from the power of Satan and to the power of God, through preaching, and the regeneration work of the Holy Spirit.

How shall they hear and believe without a preacher?