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These are the ones who are exhibiting constant improvement in all things, and of whom Jesus asks nothing more. On the one side are those who, at various levels and in diverse ways, seek to live lives of faithful Christian discipleship. On the other side are those who, in equal diversity, adopt various apostate or heretical perspectives and behaviors.

With the exception of a few faithful souls, the church at Sardis is in dire straits. They are so spiritually dead that they are on the verge of having their name erased from the Book of Life. They need to return to the essentials of their experience of redemption, and once again begin to live out that reality in their life. The crucial problem with the church in Sardis is that they have a reputation for being alive. Robert Mulholland Jr.

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There are many such Sardis-type churches in the world today that are easily identifiable. Philadelphia was founded either by Eumenes II B. As the center of a fertile vine growing area, the worship of Dionysus, the god of wine, was one of the major religious expressions. The church in Romania under communist rule was hounded, persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, martyred. Yet it was the church that triggered the movement that ultimately brought down the brutal, dictatorial regime.

After the fall of the regime, on the bulletin board of the church that had been at the center of the storm appeared this announcement: The Lamb Won! This church knew what it was to be a Philadelphia-type church, true followers of the powerless Lamb that was slain.

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Most often, a faithful group of disciples had to withstand not only the pressures of the state, but also the power of a state church. In the words of Kenneth Leech, [13] :. Always, at some level of its life, the church lives against the grain of its culture. When it does so, it loses the power and prestige that comes with being a supporter of the status quo. If we give up, individually or corporately our positions of influence, prestige, and power in the world, we cannot advance the kingdom of God.

But in a kingdom established by a crucified Messiah, life comes through death, victory through defeat, strength through weakness, power through powerlessness. The world today needs more churches like Philadelphia-type. Laodicea church thinks she is rich, has prospered, and need nothing more. The Laodicean Church is a Church almost immersed in the perspectives and values of its culture.

They fit comfortably and smoothly into the ebb and flow of their world. In contrast to the luxurious black garments of Laodicea, Jesus counsels the church to buy from him white garments to cover the shame of their nakedness. It becomes scarred by rejection, broken by abuses, crippled by destructive relationships, deformed by dehumanizing structures of life. But when clothed with a white garment in a world clothed in black, they stand out.

Instead of participating in dehumanizing economic, political, or social structures that marginalize and dehumanize others, they become those through whom God affirms the full humanity of others. Christ calls his followers to a divine way of seeing the world, themselves and others. Late David B.

Barrett in his book claimed that classical Pentecostalism constituted the largest unit in the Protestant family, as discussed by Barret [14]. They are more problematic and perverse churches in Africa. Most of the outward contradictions start from allegations of endemic and audacious corruption, domination, exploitation, oppression, discrimination, marginalization, bigotry, nepotism, occultism, personal empowerment, and leadership power.

These variants have allowed intrusions into Christendom in the 21 st century wrecking havoc to the Christian faith. Some of the intrusions are listed below; five of them are discussed in details:. Prosperity preaching known as prosperity gospel is sometimes referred to as Prosperity theology.

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Orthodox Christianity understands faith to be total surrender, believe and trust in Jesus Christ, the truth of His teaching, and the redemptive work He accomplished at Calvary, but prosperity preachers and their churches promote a different doctrine. Faith is a spiritual force, a spiritual energy, a spiritual power. It is this force of faith, which makes the laws of the spirit world function. Faith causes them to function.

Later in the same book Copeland wrote:. If you make up your mind … that you are willing to live in divine prosperity and abundance, … divine prosperity will come to pass in your life.

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You have exercised your faith. According to prosperity theology, faith is not a theocentric act of the will, or simply trust in God; rather it is an anthropocentric spiritual force, directed at God. Indeed, any theology that views faith solely as a means to material gains rather than the acceptance of heavenly justification must be judged faulty. There are many reasons the prosperity gospel is damaging the continent of Africa today but this paper examines five of those reasons:. Before Christianity came to Africa people visited witch doctors and sacrificed goats or cows to get prosperity; they poured libations on the ground so the gods would hear their prayers. Today similar practices continue because the prosperity preachers have replaced the Ifa priests.

The prosperity preacher teaches people to focus on getting, not giving. Church members are continually urged to sow financial seeds to reap bigger rewards. In Africa, Christian revivals are dedicated to collecting offerings in order to achieve wealth. Preachers tell their followers that spirituality is measured by their physical prosperity. The greedy atmosphere in prosperity churches has produced arrogance and a warped style of leadership. They plant churches not because they have a burden to reach lost souls but because they see different currencies of the world when they fill an auditorium with chairs.

The most successful prosperity preacher is the most dangerous because he can convince a crowd that Jesus died to give you a Lexus, airplane or several mansions. In Nigeria, there are many cases of theses preachers accumulating fabulous wealth and live in opulence as their followers become poorer.

The prosperity gospel is a poor imitation of the true gospel because it leaves no room for brokenness, suffering, humility or delay. Jesus calls us to deny ourselves and follow Him; prosperity preaching calls us to deny Jesus and follow our materialistic lusts. Some church ministers are so set on getting rich; they cannot go through the process of discipleship that requires self-denial.

The government of Malawi was once under international scrutiny because of fraud carried out by top leaders. One of these people stole millions of kwacha from the government and hid the cash in a teddy bear! Sadly, the prosperity gospel preached in Malawi has encouraged pastors and leaders to follow the same corrupt pattern. The same thing happened in Nigeria during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan when the president of Christian Association of Nigeria was implicated in the seized cash from his plane by South African government.

Churches have been growing rapidly in many parts of Africa today, yet sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where poverty has increased in the past 25 years. So according to the statistics, the prosperity gospel is not bringing prosperity! It makes their followers poorer so it is a flawed message!

The attempted integration of self-esteem into Christianity has not only influenced the theology of Christian counselors but has also distorted the mission and proclamation of many evangelical and mainline Protestant churches. Influenced by the Church Growth Movement, church leaders ask the questions: If the people in our community are seeking a sense of self-worth and self-esteem, how can we reach them? How can we be sensitive to the desires of these seekers? How can we produce a Sunday morning service that will allow these poor people with their wounded hearts and victimized lives to go home feeling good about them-selves?

The preaching of the Law, the doctrine of original sin, the confession of sins, the preaching of a bloody cross as the payment for human sin has been forsaken. Rather, it is prosperity preaching; gospel of feeling good about self and be happy. So, instead of gathering together in contrition and repentance, acknowledging sin and hearing the Good News of the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ, Christians today often hear sermons on politics, morals, values, and principles for living the alleged Christian life. The integration of the self-esteem concept into Christianity has produced devastating results.