1. The seeker friendly movement says the church is for believers and unbelievers alike. But the biblical pattern excludes unbelievers:
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:42-47)
- Not only were unbelievers excluded, but this non-seeker church God blessed with true converts anyway. They received great favor and the Lord added converts “day by day.”
- The word also says, “Thus says the Lord GOD: No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the people of Israel, shall enter my sanctuary” (Eze. 44:9). The book of Ezekiel records that when Israel violated this rule, God indicts Israel as a “rebellious house,” committing “abominations” by “admitting foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and flesh, to be in my sanctuary” (vv. 6-7).
- Granted, this doesn’t necessarily mean there aren’t any changes in the New Testament church, and that no unbelievers can ever attend services. However, to say that the church is for unbelievers is incorrect. The church is first for Christ (since it is the body of Christ, and Christ is the Lord of the church), and second for His people:
“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Cor. 6:14-18)
- The seeker friendly movement, in inviting unbelievers to church en masse, promises unequally yoking of believers and unbelievers. It also violates the principle to “go out from their midst, and be separate from them.”
- Thus to make the church a church for unbelievers promises destruction of the church:
“Take care, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you go, lest it become a snare in your midst. You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they whore after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and you are invited, you eat of his sacrifice, and you take of their daughters for your sons, and their daughters whore after their gods and make your sons whore after their gods.” (Ex. 34:12-16) (see also 1 Kings 11; Nehemiah 13:23-31; Mal. 2:10-12)
To say that a church is a church for unbelievers is to covenant with the inhabitants of the land and create a snare in the church’s midst. After all, “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (1 Cor. 5:6b) (cf. Gal. 5:9). Those holding to the seeker friendly movement should remember: “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Cor. 15:33). They should heed the following: “Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.” (1 Cor. 5:12b-13). Else, as Ex. 34 above tells us, snares will be laid and the church will whore after other gods. Such invites God’s wrath:
“You shall not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for they would turn away your sons from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the LORD would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.” (Deut. 7:3, 4)
- Intermarriage is adultery against the Lord, which is enmity with God:
“You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)
The seeker friendly movement, by its very namesake, stresses friendship with the world. Seeker friendly churches insist that church is for believers and unbelievers alike.
Ironically, members of these same churches take vows to protect the purity of the church. But the church will never be pure while being unequally yoked with unbelievers:
- “To the pure, all things are pure, but to the defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure; but both their minds and their consciences are defiled.” (Titus 1:15)
2. The seeker friendly movement says church leaders should water down God’s word in order to keep a larger church, to make God’s word more “palatable.” But God’s word says:
“Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God. Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears.” (Acts 20:26-31).
- Church leaders who water down doctrine (“the whole counsel of God”) are guilty of innocent blood.
- Watering down doctrine gives the opportunity for fierce wolves to deceive the church with false doctrine
- Important but crucial doctrines the seeker friendly movement waters down, or neglects completely, include: the need to live by God’s law, sin, judgment, hell, depravity, God’s sovereignty over all events, predestination, and particular redemption (without understanding particular redemption, how does one really understand the gospel? For without understanding particular redemption, how does one know what Christ’s atonement actually accomplished?)
3. The seeker friendly movement says strict biblical teaching is unimportant regarding the salvation of others. But God says the opposite:
“Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Tim. 4:16). (And, all Scripture is profitable 2 Tim. 3:16, 17)
1) Those who neglect strict biblical teaching for watering down or ignoring God’s word do not save, but help condemn themselves and others. The seeker friendly movement is detrimental to souls.
4. The seeker friendly movement says we must make the message “palatable” to the unbeliever. In other words, whenever unbelievers cannot endure sound teaching, we must accommodate their itching ears. But God says,
“preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Tim. 4:2-4)
- This passage condemns teachers who accommodate those with itching ears; thus, it condemns the seeker friendly movement.
- Teachers are not to accommodate those with itching ears, but are to preach the word “in season and out of season.” To preach the word “out of season” is to preach it when it is unpopular. Thus preaching success is not based on whether the crowd gives a positive response; preaching success is based on whether the word is taught:
“And you, son of man, be not afraid of them, nor be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions. Be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, for they are a rebellious house. And you shall speak my words to them, whether they hear or refuse to hear, for they are a rebellious house. But you, son of man, hear what I say to you. Be not rebellious like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” (Ezekiel 2:6-8)
5. The seeker friendly movement says it is unloving for preachers to rebuke their congregation. But God requires it:
“Cry aloud; do not hold back; lift up your voice like a trumpet;
declare to my people their transgression, to the house of Jacob their sins.” (Isaiah 58:1)
- To rebuke when necessary is the loving thing to do:
“Better is open rebuke
than hidden love.” (Proverbs 27:5)
6. The seeker friendly movement attempts, for seemingly noble reasons, to relax some commandments of God in the name of fulfilling others.
For example, in the name of evangelism and loving non-Christians, the movement makes void God’s requirement for the church to separate from the world (2 Cor. 6:14-18) and the requirement to teach the full counsel of God (Acts 20:26-31). (Evangelism and loving non-Christians are to be done, but on God’s terms, not ours). But making void God’s commandments in the name of fulfilling others is forbidden, and renders one’s worship in vain:
“He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'” (Matt. 15:3-9) (See also the example of Saul, who by doing things his own way-no matter how noble it seemed-he lost his kingdom: 1 Samuel 13:9-14 )
- Interestingly, the seeker friendly movement’s softening of doctrine not only undermines discipleship, but also undermines evangelism itself, since its methods of evangelism are unbiblical. Thus it accomplishes nothing productive.
- Now, when does the church evangelize? To be sure, it can be done from the pulpit, since one never knows which church members are truly saved and truly lost. But evangelism does not mean violate the separation principle during corporate worship, bible lessons, and life groups. Is it too much to ask for the church to have at least 2-3 hours a week of collective separation? Especially given that the church has 6 entire days and 21 hours to go out and evangelize?
- Church members are to be trained in how to biblically evangelize. The “Go!” in the Great Commission says to evangelize aggressively. But the seeker friendly movement trains the church to be passive in evangelism and makes the preacher do all the work. Pastors should rebuke their congregation whenever it becomes lazy in evangelism.
- I might also add that making void God’s commands are divisive (Romans 16:17).
When once non-seeker friendly churches become seeker friendly, such churches become divisive, causing many to leave the church. (And, some “pastors” of such churches just coldly say, “if you want to leave, that’s okay. Perhaps God has called you to move on to a different church.” Surely the sheep do need to leave the seeker friendly church, but what kind of churches do the sheep that leave the new seeker friendly church wander off to? Were they grounded enough to discern the proper church to attend? Will they go somewhere to be devoured by wolves? And yet, the seeker friendly pastor does not seem to care-he cares more about the unbelievers he brings into his new “seeker church” than the believers he once fed).
7. The seeker friendly movement is inherently anti-Scriptural in its philosophy, for it assumes that unbelievers seek God. But the Word says,
“as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands; no one seeks for God.” (Rom. 3:10, 11)
Man is not the seeker. Jesus is the seeker:
“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10)
Unbelievers are totally depraved. Being dead in sin, they are unable to seek God:
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5)
“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot.” (Rom. 8:7)
“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)
Conversion is an 100% sovereign act of God, and fallen man does not have any goodness to contribute to his salvation. Salvation is of God’s freewill, not man’s:
“And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48).
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44)
For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” (John 5:21)
“All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” (Matt. 11:27)
“In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will,” (Eph. 1:11)
“So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.” (Rom. 9:16-18)
Man’s sole role in evangelism is not to play the role of God and convert the soul, but simply preach the word:
“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” (1 Thess. 1:4-5b).
These are the two elements in conversion: Spirit and Word-not seeker sensitive environments. We can’t control the Spirit (John 3:8), but we can preach the word. God sovereignly decides on the growth:
“I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” (1 Cor. 3:6, 7)
The Unbeliever is not Seeking God
8. The seeker friendly movement says we must change God’s word to make things understandable to those in the audience. But the word says:
“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
- So from this we must ask: is the seeker friendly message directed to the unconverted (“the natural person”), or the converted? If the unconverted, changing God’s word will not help a bit (but it will hurt), since “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God.” If directed to the converted, there is no need to change God’s word, since
“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” (1 Corinthians 2:12-13)
9. The seeker friendly movement is built on the same philosophy that resulted in theological liberalism and the destruction of the church.
McArthur notes how modernism a century ago worked to destroy the church (hence all the liberal mainline denominations). Doctrine was downplayed in the name of unity and to make the church more relevant for its age (John MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel, xiv, xv) Charles Spurgeon fought this philosophy tooth and nail, despite this causing his reputation in the eyes of many, and his very health, leading to his death (see Appendix 1)
The same doctrinal compromises that made the church liberal are being made in the seeker friendly movement, which employs the philosophy of pragmatism. “Pragmatism is the notion that meaning or worth is determined by practical consequences. … Pragmatism has roots in Darwinism and secular humanism. It is inherently relativistic …” p. xii
Pragmatism is anti-biblical. Success is not based on results, but following God’s commands-whether or not we believe a result is positive. The means are just as important as the ends:
“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Ecc. 12:13)
As 2 Tim. 4:2-4 and Ezek. 2:6-8 show, pragmatism is not even acceptable in evangelism.
10. The seeker friendly movement relies on physical means (big buildings, extravagant multimedia, etc.) to attract unbelievers. But God’s word says:
“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4) (see also Isaiah 31:1, Zech. 4:6)
- God doesn’t look to extravagant buildings, but the following characteristics below: (note that the seeker friendly movement deliberately opposes an environment with one of these characteristics, which is trembling at God’s word):
“Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is my throne,and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the LORD. But this is the one to whom I will look:he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:1, 2)
- And consider the words of Jesus: “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.'” (John 6:26)
- The seeker friendly movement attracts those who want earthly food but not spiritual food. The only reason an unregenerate would appear to be seeking is for carnal reasons, here for the loaves. Similarly, the seeker friendly movement offers several carnal things-food, extravagant buildings, great social programs, etc. (not necessarily bad in themselves). But it is the word-taught in its full counsel-that truly reaches God’s elect. Note the following:
- After feeding the five thousand with physical food, Jesus repeatedly feeds those that remained with spiritual food. He taught a doctrine that seeker friendly churches today are ashamed to teach (especially from the pulpit): that salvation is not the choice of man (“freewill choice”), but God’s sovereign choice (God’s freewill). John 6:37; :39; :44; 65.
“And he said, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.’ After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” (John 6:65, 66). (I am unsure whether in this example those who left consciously rejected God’s sovereignty in salvation. Nevertheless, we know from experience and Romans 9:19-20 that man tends to find this doctrine offensive. And Jesus saw fit to teach it in John 6, regardless of the fallout.)
- Was Jesus wrong to do this? The seeker friendly movement says “Yes! We have to be nice and never teach offensive doctrine, otherwise, we’ll scare people away and never reach the lost!” Jesus was (and is) seeker unfriendly: He taught doctrine that carnal seekers find distasteful.
- But Jesus did-as he always does-reach the lost. Those who were his remained with him, “offensive” doctrine or not:
“So Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.'” (John 6:67-70)
- Why did the Twelve (minus Judas) remain? Not because of fleshly attractions, but because God drew them (John 6:44). It was not the work of bread loaves, but Jesus, the bread of life. As Matt. 16:15-17 reads:
“He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.”
- From this we learn that if a church wants to have an army of falsely converted goats and wolves that will leaven the church, then it should assume the seeker friendly philosophy, feed only the carnal desires of its attendees, and never teach straight doctrine.
- But teaching biblical truth can simultaneously rid the church of goats and wolves (to a certain extent; Judas remained), and also keep those whom God has chosen.
From this we also learn the importance of feeding Christ’s sheep with spiritual food. And,
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.” (John 21:17)
Leaders must prove their love for Jesus by feeding Christ’s sheep with the word. How much word? All of it:
“But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matt. 4:4)
11. The seeker friendly movement waters down doctrine because they are afraid to appear as “beating someone over the head” with doctrine. However,
- This very mindset caters to the unrepentant mindset. How can they repent if they are never informed of Hell, the law, their sinfulness, and repentance? Better to be “beaten over the head with doctrine” than to be beaten over the head with God’s wrath for eternity. The “beating over the head” could very well be conviction given by the Holy Spirit.
- This very mindset insults the Lord. For the Lord did and does what the seeker friendly movement calls beating over the head: “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.” (John 7:7)
- If God’s word teaches about Hell, the law, sin, and repentance, then we are to do the same.
- Moreover, the very reason the unbeliever complains about being beaten over the head is because he loves his sin. He doesn’t want to be reminded that God’s wrath is upon him, and he needs to repent:
“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” (John 3:19-20)
And, catering to the unrepentant person’s needs is obeying those needs, which is to obey the unrepentant person. But the word says, “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29)
12. The seeker friendly movement says that church leaders shouldn’t teach the fear of God because they might scare people away. But God’s word says:
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1:7)
1) If the church wants men to know about God, men must begin with the fear of God.
“The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.” (Psalm 25:14)
1) God is only seeker friendly to those who fear Him. A person must fear God if He wants to be friends with God.
- Therefore, fear is a basis for evangelism:
“Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.” (2 Cor. 5:11a).
- In fact, fear for the Lord-not the reduction of the Lord to a warm, friendly buddy-is to characterize the church’s atmosphere because:
“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” (Ecc. 12:13, 14)
Not surprisingly, the fear of the Lord in the early New Testament church was a foundational aspect. Notice that after Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead, fear seized those inside and outside the church:
“And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.” (Acts 5:11; cf. v. 5)
- Despite the atmosphere of fear, God adds believers to the church:
“Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,” (Acts 5:12-14)
In fact, later in Acts it says the church turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6); but the seeker friendly movement results in the world turning the church upside down.
- Much of the timidity in mentioning God and His wrath stem from the assumption that the unsaved don’t honestly believe God exists-much less believe God’s wrath is upon them. The thinking goes that with a little gentle convincing and persuasion, we can get the unbeliever to believe God exists. But the unbeliever in his heart of hearts knows God exists (despite the unbeliever’s denial of this), and that God’s wrath is upon him. Thus we need not convince him of God’s existence, but remind him of God’s wrath:
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Rom. 1:18-20)
- Thus the unbeliever’s problem is not knowledge of God’s existence, but rebellion. He needs to be reminded of his rebellion, sin, and his condemnation. Once he hears this (the bad news), he can be given the good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ.
13. The seeker friendly movement says we should only be positive and not negative. But the Word says:
“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” (Eph. 5:11)
See also Proverbs 28:23, 2 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
14. The seeker friendly movement says Jesus’ primary concern is “felt needs.” But Jesus says,
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?” (Matt. 6:25) (NIV)
Similarly, the seeker friendly movement prioritizes preaching felt needs as the initial point of contact to the unbeliever. But Jesus preached the kingdom of God as the highest priority, all else second:
“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt. 6:31-34) (NIV)
15. The seeker friendly movement attempts new, “innovative” ways to share the gospel in order to make the Gospel more “relevant.” “Relevance” here means less offensive to the hearer. But God’s word says,
“As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:9, 10)
“But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.” (Galatians 5:11)
- To make the Gospel relevant to the world is to make it irrelevant for Christ:”Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.” (1 Cor. 3:18-19b)
- God’s word is perfect, and therefore cannot made to be more relevant:
“The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;” (Ps. 19:7)
- Indeed, seeker evangelism does nothing but produce false converts. In neglecting to teach God’s law, it neglects bringing people into repentance:
“What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” (Rom. 7:7)
Many might say, “Well, I know someone who turned to the Lord in a seeker-friendly environment.” But assuming that the conversion was genuine-which would mean God found another means to reach that person’s heart in spite of the seeker-friendly gospel-it is still wrong on the part of the church to teach a seeker friendly gospel. While there is God’s will of decree: “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.,” (Rom. 8:28b), there is God’s will of command, and to violate it is wrong, regardless if whether God’s will of decree works through men violating God’s will of command. Jesus was crucified according to God’s will of decree (Acts 2:23), and yet Judas violated God’s will of command by betraying Jesus, and he was better off not being born (Matt. 26:24). Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery against God’s will of command, and yet God’s will of decree worked it out for good (Gen. 50:20). It was still a sin on the brothers’ part. There are more examples in the Bible, but these should suffice.
16. In rejecting the fear of the Lord, the seeker friendly movement redefines salvation to mean salvation from a less than fulfilled life, instead of salvation from Hell and sin.
But the Word says:
“They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
“Peace, peace,” they say,
when there is no peace.” (Jer. 8:11) (NIV)
To preach salvation from a less than fulfilled life instead of salvation from sin and Hell is to dress the wound of others as it is not serious, and to say peace, peace, when there is no peace.
Man needs salvation from Hell. And to be saved from Hell requires salvation from sin. Both of these (Hell and sin) must be presented to the unbeliever; for
“But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.
“So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.” (Ezekiel 33:6-9).
- Thus the wicked are to be warned, not to be coaxed with timid speech. If people don’t know what they are being saved from, they aren’t saved. This is a formula for false conversion and deceiving people into believing they are saved when they are not. And false converts will naturally take the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner (cf. 1 Cor. 11:27). Would not this double the unbeliever’s condemnation? There is nothing loving or “friendly” in all of this.
17. Many might justify going in a seeker friendly direction because they say they prayed about it, and they believe God told them to go along with it. But just because people say this, it doesn’t mean they are truly hearing from God.
The test is whether what they say lines up with Scripture (which is God speaking), and if it contradicts Scripture, then they clearly did not hear from God. The Holy Spirit doesn’t contradict Himself, telling us one thing in the Bible and the opposite to an individual. One’s subjective understanding must be understood in the light of objective Scripture:
“knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pet. 1:20, 21) (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16)
I can’t speak for God on why some people believe God has supernaturally confirmed to them to support the seeker friendly movement. All I can raise is biblical scenarios to show that we can’t trust subjective experience over the word:
- Supernatural events can be a means of God to test the church’s faithfulness to Him and His word (Deut. 13:1-4)
- There can be counterfeit signs (2 Thess. 2:9)
- One can be deluded (2 Thess. 2:11)
- Visions can come from one’s own mind, “not from the mouth of the LORD.” (Jeremiah 23:16)
Thus, “Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully.” (Jeremiah 23:28)
These examples show that we can’t trust our own experiences, or the experiences of others, over and against God’s word. Moreover, just because “the doors seem to be opening” for a church to go along with a seeker friendly direction (such as an unexpected land deal for building a megachurch), it doesn’t mean that God wants people to walk thru those doors. Again, God could be testing that church (see Deut. 13:1-4), or it could be something else. I want to add that if one is financially blessed after giving to a seeker friendly campaign, it doesn’t necessarily prove God is blessing them for giving to it. There is the logical fallacy post hoc ergo propter hoc (“after the thing, therefore because of the thing”). If, for example, I do something out of the ordinary such as eat broccoli and then my stomach ache goes away, it doesn’t necessarily follow that the broccoli healed the stomach ache. It could be a coincidence.
19. In closing, I can relate to the temptation to go the seeker friendly route, since before I studied this topic it seemed quite noble. But we are the salt of the earth, not the sugar of the earth. It’s tempting to be a sweet sugar daddy that everyone loves, but Christians are not called to be loved by the world. They are salt, and salt at times must sting-especially when it is used to heal the open wounds of unrepentance.
My prayer is those in the seeker friendly movement repent. The seeker friendly philosophy is not of God, and as such, is an idol, a violation of the Second Commandment. Trying to appease the seeker and Christ is serving two masters, a violation of the First Commandment. I say this not self-righteously (I am the chief of sinners), but out of love for God’s flock. I conclude with these words from Francis Schaeffer:
“Turning away to false theology is equal to turning away to false gods. Whenever the church of
Jesus Christ turns away from the living God and His propositional truth, she is playing the harlot.
In Jeremiah 3:9 we find the same: “And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom,
that she hath defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks.”
“Therefore, in a post-Christian world and in an often post-Christian church, it is imperative to point
out with love where apostasy lies. We must openly discuss with all who will listen, treating all men
as fellow men, but we must call apostasy, apostasy. If we do not do that, we are not ready for
reformation, revival, and a revolutionary church in the power of the Holy Spirit” (Schaeffer, Death in the City, p. 54).
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