Tell it to SunStar.
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Tell it to SunStar: Churches and wolves

By Reni Valenzuela

Jesus Christ did not die and resurrect to establish religion, but to save sinners. But why do many churches today exist like their respective “religious groups” are the savior of the world?

To distinguish the true from false among flocks and shepherds, we need to be extra discerning under the unction of the Holy Spirit, especially in situations/settings outside of church/religious borders in light of their respective modernized “glyph” and divergence from practical, biblical manners and heart.

Theology, doctrines and dogmas can be so appealing and misleading in the minds of ordinary people as squarely as the cursed, forbidden fruit in the eyes of Adam and Eve. “We are the true church,” each of them “convincingly” claims. But note this, dear countrymen and fellow Christians: It is in little and seemingly insignificant, irreligious things that a church can be known or best known for its authenticity or hypocrisy.

Watch out for churches and “servants of God” that use/banner the name of Christ, yet are no Christian churches and Christians at all for they are teeming with traits and awash with apostasy, wielding their clout and dominance over every person that belongs to their groups which pride themselves as the torch bearers of faith in pursuit of “holy grails” fraught with deceptive, delusive schemes, designs and objectives -- unbeknown and unfamiliar to the gullible and unsuspecting.

The number “40” plays a supreme, significant part in climactic events recorded in the Bible. E.g., Jesus fasted for 40 days and 40 nights before He started His ministry to save sinners. Moses was 40 years in the desert when God appeared on Mt. Sinai to give him the 10 Commandments. The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years before they entered the Promised Land.

Now for its part in identifying false churches and false prophets, here to wit follows the forty basic, rudimental characteristics that mark off and define each one of them:

1. They dictate and compel their members to vote for candidates that they endorse during elections via block voting.

2. They lead their parishioners to treat created beings (dead or living, symbol or real) as little gods other than the one and only true, Almighty God.

3. They are cold, indifferent and callous over victims of abuses and killings in society, perpetrated by authorities no less.

4. They are not troubled with corruption and all sorts of shenanigans in the government, but not when their parochial concerns are affected.

5. They support ruthless, murderous officials and even pray for their “good health and protection” rather than oppose, rebuke, enlighten and guide them.

6. They are cold and heartless toward the victims of injustice and extrajudicial killings, especially among the destitute and helpless.

7. They make alliances with insurgents, insurrectionists and rebel movements to topple the government in the name of “social justice.”

8. They politicize the Church to serve their personal ambitions and those of their friends, family members, relatives and cohorts.

9. They cover evils to “protect” each other and defend the sins, much less of their leaders, rather than promoting repentance, transparency and restoration.

10. They idolize their leaders/founders as they obey them (blindly) even to the point of veneration as “appointed gods of heaven.”

11. They exploit, violate and victimize their members for self-enrichment, self-aggrandizement, self-promotion, and self-extravagance.

12. They quickly expel (even punish) members for refusing to submit to authoritarian rulers and rulership of their “kingdom” or “iglesia.”

13. They specialize in “miracles” and “healing” when Jesus came to forgive sins and specialize in saving souls from hell and changing hearts -- for eternity.

14. They are mechanical, legalistic and exacting as they implement self-serving decrees just to keep their members and secure their captivity in their folds.

15. They ennoble themselves above all by maintaining their so-called “DNA” and group “ethos” to the utter disregard of Christ and His ways.

16. They discriminate against the poor in their “evangelization” efforts and services to win the world “for Christ” -- for mega growth.

17. They are pharisaical toward the penniless, marginalized, beggarly, outcast, downtrodden, and the likes -- in their plight.

18. They create dichotomies in their assemblies to separate the nobody from the rich, the educated from unschooled, etc., by their manners and elitism.

19. They force the giving of tithes and offering which is an Old Testament command/practice because “free and cheerful” giving is the New Testament way.

20. They cherish attacking other Christian groups publicly, habitually because they are the only ones who are “saved” -- according to them.

21. They don’t do serious evangelization for they are content having their members intermarry and bear children -- for “church growth.”

22. They still drink, smoke, gamble and/or engage themselves in vices and worldly entanglements, even in greedy, immoral, illegal pursuits.

23. They have other printed materials and/or e-books as their “another bible” besides the real Bible -- on which they also base their faith.

24. They magnify, dignify heretical theology and their tiny, teeny “booklets” for salvation, carnal living and false security or “eternal security.”

25. They corrupt the coffers of the church and practice the ways of the world like bribery, anomaly, falsification, “under the table” deals, etc.

26. They teach redemption is gained by works, rituals, and, for some, by “literal water” baptism and/or entering their nice, painted, pointed buildings.

27. They conduct their worship or rituals barren of life which make God appear dead or far away somewhere outside the planet.

28. They preach holiness as if Heaven is blind that can see no farther than the “outer part” of the “temple of God” or believers.

29. They are pulpit timid as they ever prefer to tickle ears rather than preach boldly against sins and transgressions whoever gets hit and hurt.

30. They are afraid of offending “sensibilities” when they proclaim The Word -- through their harmless “good vibes” sermons or “motivational talks.”

31. They are extra careful not to displease wealthy members (business tycoons) for they hate losing their “tithes and offerings” or their huge donations.

32. They propagate the gospel of convenient Christianity as they care more about the “faithful giving” of their members than the latter’s salvation/transformation.

33. They have prosperity as their usual sermon topic as if money and affluence are all there is in the Christian life.

34. They cheapen Christianity by way of state-of-the-art display of piety in their services to the debasement of the sacred.

35. They regard technology as having evolved to become a demigod, and thus render holy things as passe, obsolete and useless.

36. They literally or figuratively dump the Bible by preaching the Bible without a Bible or without using the Bible -- but just gadgets or their “godget.”

37. They forbid (or do not admonish) their members to read the Bible and bring one to church during services and meetings.

38. They erect fantabulous “Towers of Babel” rather than build human temples wherein God’s Spirit may dwell, reside and reign.

39. They have gigantic buildings for their sanctuaries which have all sorts of rooms and function areas, except a prayer room/s.

40. They propagate their exclusive, first-class religion (or “logo”) for self-gratification and self-glory more than the Gospel of Christ -- for His delight and glory.

To top it all, false churches and false prophets see their religious groups (and themselves) as a “god” to serve, and the “god” to replace the God of the universe.

This article is not meant to suggest that we look for a perfect church because there is no such a thing for the simple reason that there are no perfect Christians. The foregoing realities, however, are not about perfection, but about church identification to guide us all to authentic Christianity, to Jesus Christ and to a joyful, happy, peaceful, blessed, sanctified, sheltered, safe, secure and victorious living on earth -- and to eternal life, in the presence of the Lord, forever and ever.

Should you hence find a church that bear any of the above characteristics, you better think real deeply and prayerfully to listen to the Holy Spirit before joining that church or before continuing to be a part of that church because there are many good, Christ-centered, Christ-honoring, divinely led, Holy Spirit-empowered, Bible-reading, true churches and genuine shepherds of souls around, mostly in small or smaller “unattached” congregations.

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