Millennials and the Future of Truth
This is the end of our mini-series on issues relating to Millennials. We want to end with a loving and gracious exhortation concerning WHY Millennials need to be immersed in sound doctrine and the present danger of failing on this crucial aspect of THE FAITH.
The Truth in Scripture
Truth is obviously a major theme in the Bible; the English word appears 237 times. The concept appears many more times: Deut. 32:4 – God is a “God of truth.” John 14:6 – Jesus is the Truth. John 1:14 - The Word (Christ) is full of grace and truth. John 1:17 – Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. Prov. 23:23 – We are to buy the truth and sell it not. Psalm 26:3 – We are to walk in the truth. Psalm 25:5 – The psalmist asked God to “lead me in thy truth.” Psalm 51: 6 – God desires truth in the inward parts. John 4:24 – We are to worship God in spirit and in truth. I Cor. 13:6 – Love rejoices in the truth. Eph. 4:15 – We are to speak the truth in love. John 8:32 – The truth shall made you free. John 17:17 – We are sanctified by the truth. Thy word is truth. I Tim. 3:15- The church is the pillar and ground of the truth. Eph. 6:14 – We are to stand, having our loins girt about with truth. II Tim. 2:15 – We are to rightly divide the truth. James 5:19 – It is possible for a believer to err from the truth. Col. 1:5 – The saving message is the word of the truth of the gospel. I Thess. 2:12 – Those who don’t believe the truth are damned. I Tim. 2:4 – Being saved means coming to the knowledge of the truth. II John 8 – We are to be fellow-helpers of the truth. John 5:33 – We are to bear witness of the truth in the world. I Tim. 2:4 – It is God’s will to have all men come to the knowledge of the truth. That’s our mission in the world. Psalm 100:5 – God’s truth endures to all generations – including the present generation of Millennials.
Truth is an essential part of Christianity. I think we are all in agreement on this very basic and fundamental Bible fact. Christians don’t embrace Christianity because they have studied all the world religions and find this the most satisfying philosophy. It is not embraced because it is the most pleasing or the most helpful. The reason Christians embrace Christianity is because it is the TRUTH. Period. Christianity is truth or it is nothing.
The Present Age Is Characterized by an Organized Assault on Truth
Matthew 13 is a description of the character of the age between Christ’s first coming at His birth until His Second Coming to establish the Kingdom. (church age and tribulation period)
Matthew 13 – Parables that predict the evil nature of the present age: Matt. 13:37 – The One sowing the seed is the “Son of Man”. The parable covers a time period beginning with the Son of Man proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom – sowing the seed. The expression “Son of Man” connects Christ to His Incarnation. The Eternal Son of God entered into humanity and became the Son of Man... Jesus Christ. Jesus began sowing that seed – the good news of the Kingdom – the gospel of the Kingdom at His first coming. These parables begin with the earthly ministry of Christ.
Matt. 13:39 – The harvest is at the end of the world (age = αἰών). The harvest time is the end of the age. The “age” refers to the age just prior to the Kingdom. It speaks of the time at the Lord’s Second Coming and the pre-kingdom judgements associated with that coming. There will be a separation of the wheat from the tares before the Kingdom begins. Jesus taught unless a man is born again, he won’t enter the Kingdom!
Our purpose today is simply to highlight the time frame for these parables. They begin in the first century during Jesus’ earthly ministry at His first coming and end at His Second Coming and the judgments associated with the establishing of the Messianic, Mediatorial Kingdom. There is a huge time gap (over 2000 years) in between. These parables are called “mysteries of the Kingdom.” A mystery is a previously unrevealed truth – but now revealed. The Kingdom was certainly not a mystery in the Old Testament. It was a major theme of the Old Testament!
But in Matthew 13, the Lord reveals certain aspects about the Kingdom that had not yet been revealed. Matthew 13 hints at the fact that there would be an unspecified time gap between when the Kingdom was first announced and when it is actually established.
In chapter 12, the Jewish leaders accused Jesus of performing His miracles in the power of Satan. At that point their minds were pretty much made up concerning His offer of the Kingdom. Now Jesus reveals that the kingdom would be postponed. He also reveals the evil character of the age... between His first and second coming... which includes the church age and Tribulation Period. These parables reveal that this time period will be characterized by the following: Phony professions of faith: four soils – some receive the word with joy, but have no root and die out. Difficulty in discerning between the true and phony believers: wheat and the tares growing together. Unholy mixture: Christendom grown from a tiny mustard seed into a monstrosity – a tree that houses every foul bird in heaven. Doctrinal corruption: A woman takes flour to make bread and puts leaven in it until it is all leavened; leaven is a form of corruption. Phony doctrine. Mixture of good and evil: Fishermen cast a net and gather both good and bad fish; the bad fish are cast away. Jesus reveals that the present age is characterized by: phony professions of faith; corrupt doctrine; unholy mixture of good and evil; truth and error. This age is a time of deception and counterfeit.
This is consistent with the revelation of the present age in the epistles too. II Cor. 11:3-4 – The serpent beguiles minds and hearts with “another Jesus, another Spirit, and another gospel” which mimic the true, but are phony. They are a counterfeit. They are not consistent with the truth revealed in the Scriptures about who God is... and what the gospel is. Expect to hear much talk about another Jesus who is not the same as the Jesus of the Bible. Jesus will be described as a radical... a revolutionary... Expect to hear much talk about another spirit – who leads people to do things contrary to the Scriptures... who moves people to violate the principle of holiness... who is more concerned about feelings than truth. That’s not the Holy Spirit. That’s some other spirit. And expect to hear confusing talk about another gospel a gospel that does not ring true.
II Cor. 11:13-14 – “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” He is the great counterfeiter. II Cor. 11:15 – “Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness.” This is the spiritual and moral character of the age in which we live. II Tim. 3:1,5 – “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.... Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” Matthew 7:15 – “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Eph. 4:14-15 – “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” Titus 1:16 – “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.”
In the Tribulation Period after the church is raptured, the deception will be even more severe. The Tribulation Period is also part of the “time gap” between Christ’s first coming and His Second Coming. II Thess. 2:9-11– “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” The closer we get to Christ’s Second Coming, the darker, more deceptive and more confusing things will become... especially near the end.
The Truth in previous centuries- Truth and doctrine were paramount. Church Councils held to deal with false doctrine intruding into the churches. (Acts 15 – the Judaizers.) Doctrinal Statements became necessary to weed out doctrinal impurity. Battles fought over doctrine because the church is (or ought to be) engaged in a battle for the truth... fighting the good fight of THE faith (the body of Christian doctrine). Denominations formed – not because denominations are biblical; they were not. But it happened throughout church history because historically Christians have held strong convictions on doctrine... because sound doctrine equals truth.
The Truth in the Last Days- I Tim. 4:1 – “in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” Shall not endure sound doctrine. We are almost there. Some shall turn away their ears from the truth. II Peter 2:2:2 – The way of truth shall be evil spoken of. Concerning His Second Coming, the Lord asked, “Shall He find (the) faith on the earth?” Truth (the light) grows dimmer and dimmer the closer we come to the end times. II Tim. 3:13 - Evil men shall wax worse and worse. It is darkest just before the dawn.
This is the spiritual climate that Millennials have inherited... through no fault of their own. They were simply born into it. And because they live in spiritually perilous times, Millennials need to learn to live for Christ and function in the midst of this moral and spiritual mixture and confusion.
Recent Trends that are harming young people spiritually
Millennials have been fed a constant diet of tolerance, being non-judgmental, and learning co-existence. In today’s world, the worst sin is to make a moral judgment between right and wrong! But at some point, remaining non-judgmental becomes a tacit approval of wrong doctrine or wrong behavior. The culture and the schools have groomed them be non-judgmental – in a day when they need to learn to judge between truth and error more than ever! This generation has a pressing need for the ABILITY to judge and discern - the capacity to distinguish between right and wrong in a confusing world that teaches them NOT to judge. It also has a pressing need for the WISDOM to know how, when, where, why, and with what words to judge and speak out. They have been born into an America and a world that have become more and more anti-Christian; therefore, Millennials need to dare to be a Daniel. Millennials who want to be faithful are going to have to stand opposed to aspects of modern culture; to oppose things that Christians have always opposed... only now society doesn’t have their back. Today society will stab you in the back for such “bigotry”. Our culture is turning against Christianity... and its Christian roots.
The shrinking doctrinal statement – this also is spiritually harmful to the next generation. Today doctrinal statements have become but a few bullet points... in order to attract more people. The smaller the doctrinal statement, the fewer people it will hinder from coming. I don’t want to sound crass, but the purpose of the doctrinal statement is not to attract people; it is to weed people out of church membership. Today, the doctrines that keep people away are deleted from the doctrinal statement... because their goal is not purity but UNITY. While their bullet points may be good as far as they go, they don’t go far enough. An example of a church pastored by an exceptionally well known national speaker. Under the tab “Our Beliefs” it says: We are ... Calvinistic in our theology, Baptistic in our church polity, Charismatic in our affections, Our Aim: Your Happiness.
In most of the doctrinal statements I looked up, you can’t fault them for what they included; it’s what they didn’t include that is troublesome. Every evangelical in the country would be in agreement with those few bullet points listed. That makes the doctrinal statement almost useless. I want to know more. Are you dispensational or Reformed? If dispensational, are you hyper dispensational, or PD? Are you premillennial, amillennial, or post-millennial? Are you pre-trib, post-trib, mid-trib, or pre-wrath? Do you even believe in the Rapture at all? Do you distinguish between the two comings of Christ? Do you distinguish between the two natures of the believer? Do you believe the book of Revelation is history or prophecy? Do you believe the charismatic gifts are operative today? Do you believe the Christian is under the Law? Do you believe the resurrection is literal or spiritual? One general resurrection? Do you believe there are mistakes in God’s Word? Did Jesus die for the elect or for the whole world? Was the atonement accomplished on the cross alone or also throughout Jesus’ life? When did the church begin? Do you believe the church is the Kingdom? Is the church Israel? Do you believe in the Millennium? Is Hell literal? Is it forever?
You might think that I’m being too picky – persnickety... but I am picky for your good. Details of doctrine matter. Some of these things can take you very far away from where you ought to be. You might say, “Why should I care about those doctrines? I don’t even know what they are!” Well, if you were in need of major surgery and your life was hanging in the balance, wouldn’t you want (demand!) your doctor look into all the tiny details of your disease before he puts you under the knife? Even if you didn’t understand all the terminology or what all the tests were for – you would want your doctor to know what he was doing. And yes, you would even want him to be very PICKY and check everything out before he cuts you open.
I could list a series of bullet point doctrines with which we agree with the Roman Catholic Church, or the Mormon Church, or the Charismatics, or the Nazarenes, or the 7th Day Adventists... and virtually any other group of professing believers. The purpose of a doctrinal statement is not just to show points of agreement. But when looking for a church, I want to know the points of disagreement. The purpose of a doctrinal statement is to weed out those who do NOT believe the same things. The larger and more detailed your doctrinal statement, the more error it weeds out. The shorter your doctrinal statement, the more error it permits. Suppose you are ultra-allergic to peanuts, and have anaphylaxis reactions even eating a tiny bit of peanut dust. If you are buying some muffins, don’t you want a complete list of ingredients? It does you no good to read a label that only includes only the main ingredients – a few bullet points, like, milk, flour, butter, and salt). Those ingredients aren’t what you are concerned about. Of course those are good; they aren’t going to harm you. It’s the peanuts that you want to see on the label – especially if a small amount could kill you.
We should have learned the lesson from Spurgeon’s downgrade controversy in England. The Baptist Union became filled with every foul bird – every contrary doctrine imaginable. Why? Because they did not have a doctrinal statement to weed out error. They said, “The Bible is our doctrinal statement,” which sounds noble but is worthless – because everyone says that. They assumed that they were all in agreement; but they were not. The Union was not based on sound doctrine. They ended up booting Spurgeon out because he insisted on sound doctrine. The point: doctrinal statements need to be detailed; the details are necessary to weed out doctrinal error. In an age in which deception and error are on the rise – simultaneously, that which weeds out deception and error is shrinking. Does that sound sensible to you?
The relatively recent spread of Charismatic and mystic influence in the churches. There is a growing emphasis on feeling rather than the facts of Scripture. Faith must rest upon facts from Scripture, not feelings from a fallen heart.
Closing of fundamental schools: Pillsbury; Northland; Tennessee Temple; Calvary Lansdale; and most recently Clearwater Christian College. These are very ominous signs of the times. Less good literature written from the fundamental position. Fewer fundamental pastors trained; thus fewer fundamental churches planted; thus, more “new Calvinist” and “designer” churches.
Logos software “packages.” This is the largest and probably the best Bible software company. It is a wonderful tool for Bible study. I highly recommend it. I use it every day. It is a wonderful aid in Bible study – but it’s only a tool. They now sell the Bible software in packages for Anglicans, Catholics, Baptists, Charismatics, 7th Day Adventists, Lutherans, Reformed, but no “Dispensational” package. The sad fact is, there are a lot of customers for Reformed packages, but not so many for customers for dispensational theology.
Sermon Audio- This is a fabulous tool also. It contains thousands of sermon recordings that you can download and listen to any time you want. Some of the men preaching on Sermon audio are with the Lord! And while there are some fabulous sermons from good, solid, fundamental, dispensational preachers there – it is getting like finding a needle in a haystack... unless you know their name and search the name. By a long shot, most are Reformed. Thus, the venues and sources outside the church from which Millennials and young pastors are getting so much of their information are SLANTED against dispensationalism and against fundamentalism... because it is all market driven, not truth driven.
Why Millennials Need Truth More Than Ever
The battle against the truth is increasing in a day when a deep knowledge of the truth is decreasing. Knowledge of the truth is taking a back seat to feeling and experience. That’s like more germs floating around at a time when the body has a depleted immune system – not good timing.
Believers are facing persecution in America and around the world. This trend is likely to increase not decrease in the decades to come. It has started already – a few Christian bakers, photographers, and business owners have been targeted for their convictions: refusing to participate in a gay wedding or in their opposition to abortion. The flood gates have been opened and the writing is on the wall. Huge changes are coming to our society once gay marriage is approved nationally... and gender neutrality... These changes are going to bring problems and persecution to individual believers and to churches who refuse to go along. We all knew that such things were coming. But I have to admit, it came much faster and more suddenly than I expected. The next generation, through no fault of their own, are going to have LIVE with the consequences of these changes. Do you know what that means? That could mean losing your business; losing your house; pastors being imprisoned; churches closed down. This is not far-fetched. We are losing our freedoms fast, including the freedom of speech. Being opposed to certain lifestyles and speaking in public about it is taboo in Canada already. It’s called hate speech. In Canada, there have already been between 200 and 300 legal proceedings against critics and opponents of same-sex marriage. Even our national sovereignty is slowly being eroded by the push for a one-world globalism.
Brethren – as much as I love my country, what we are witnessing is a 21 century version of the Roman Empire crumbling from within before our very eyes... and Christians are also being persecuted! I say these things with a broken heart – because our children are the ones who will have to live in and raise their families in this moral and spiritual confusion. I am sounding this alarm because of the poor choices I see young people making today with respect to church and lifestyle; choices that will leave them ill-equipped to face the danger, the deception and the persecution our adversary the devil has planned. As Rome crumbles around us, Christian Millennials are going to face the proverbial lions for their faith in the days to come. Satan’s goal is not to bite and wound us with a little error. His goal is to devour us... to eat the heart out of Christianity and leave its carcass for the birds of carrion to feast on. That’s why Millennials need to be prepared more than ever before. That’s why they need all the help they can get from the older and more experienced believers. If the next generation is going to stand in the evil day they will need to know the truth and the meat of God’s Word... they are going to need strong convictions from God’s Word... and they desperately need discernment. And all of these things that they desperate NEED are being undermined by the “light and lively” pop culture churches. And sound fundamental churches that have substance and meat to offer are dying of attrition – because so few Millennials want what we offer.
This generation seems to have everything stacked up against it. The moral temperature in our country is falling rapidly – and it’s not just fundamentalists who are alarmed; many non-Christians are also alarmed. Today 61% believe that having children out of wedlock is morally acceptable. In 1969 – the year of Woodstock and in the midst of the hippy movement, 12% of the population was in favor of legalizing pot. Today it is a majority nationwide. Support for gay marriage is at 60% today. I don’t even want to mention the Bruce Jenner story. And for anyone to oppose those views is to subject yourself to all kinds of rejection and labeled as a hate monger, a bigot, a homophobe, a sexist or some other slur aimed at silencing the opposition. The moral climate is going to make it more and more difficult for believing Millennials in the years to come. Young people have been groomed to be tolerant of all beliefs, lifestyles, etc. and to never be judgmental... even of wolves in sheep’s clothing. And to make matters worse, the landmarks are being moved: Fundamental churches and schools are closing. Dispensationalism is becoming a bad word. Not as much sound literature is being distributed.
Millennials have many more distractions than previous generations. And to boot, the government is cracking down on the practice of Christianity in America. There is a much more aggressive push for the progressive one world agenda of tolerance and co-existence. It seems the only thing that isn’t tolerated are those pesky Christians who need to be silenced.
All these things are suddenly converging against the Millennials. Evil trends in the world today are piling up against them, making it necessary for believers to be stronger and more fortified in the faith than ever. Yet simultaneously, the trend in the churches today seems bent on keeping Millennials malnourished and weakened spiritually. Because of these unhappy trends, there will be precious few Millennials who will come to a church like this to worship God in an atmosphere of reverence; who will tolerate warnings against error; or tolerate being challenged to holy living and to seek things that are excellent rather than going with the flow. There will be precious few – but the few who do come will be precious – rare gems... the kind of believers God can use to carry the church into the next generation. That godly remnant of Millennials will come because they don’t come to church to hear a band play the latest tunes... they come to worship in spirit and in truth. They don’t come to church just to be with friends; they come to be with their brethren – members of the Body of Christ who fear God – regardless of earthly distinctions like Jew or Gentile; male or female; bond or free; young or old; red, yellow, black, or white.
The church is not a social club for friends. Nobody comes to Salem Bible Church to feel good; you will be sadly disappointed; those who come do so to be fed and to go from here to serve. Millennials won’t come to Salem Bible Church to be pampered and coddled; they come to be challenged; stretched; encouraged to run the race with patience; and challenged to stand in the evil day... to swim against the current and never look back! Millennials are NOT going to come to Salem Bible Church in droves; but the few who do come and stay will stay because they are serious about spiritual things. They come singing “gimme that old time religion” not “gimme that show time religion”; they are looking for edification not entertainment. In this evil day, even though everything seems to be working against them, evil trends converging against them: yet God is able to raise up a remnant of young believers that are worth their weight in gold. And I’m convinced that over time, some of the Millennials in the cool, hip, designer churches will grow weary of the shallowness... will begin to see through its façade... and will begin to hunger for something more than milk and cookies. And I’m convinced that God will lead some of those folks right here – or to other churches of like precious faith... And from that remnant God is able to call some to serve Him in foreign lands... or to plant churches in a region where there is no witness... and to be witnesses for Christ. They will be like the remnant Malachi describes in 3:16-17: “Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. 17And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels...”
Ways We Can Help
Teaching, and sound doctrine; Warnings; Mature believers who would love to mentor younger believers; Help in sorting out doctrinal information overload. Don’t be afraid to let us know if you are struggling or need help.
The Lord has built a church here that (by His grace) has been solid, stable, and consistent. We haven’t changed or shrunk our doctrinal statement. We haven’t fallen for all the religious fads. We believe that God has created here a solid foundation and spiritually healthy atmosphere in which to raise a Christian family... and we would love nothing more than to work with young Millennials and be a help, an encouragement, to support, to teach and to train in sound doctrine and practice... and help you exercise yourselves into godliness and discernment, because brethren, you are going to need all that in the days to come if you want to be found faithful when the Lord returns.