Somewhere inside the human heart there is a void. It is a hard taskmaster that demands a search for fulfillment and meaning, and it can achieve a level of contentment with the things of this world. Money, purpose, health, family, friends, and a list of temporal enjoyments are often used to fill this void, although they can never completely fill this gaping chasm. It can also be appeased by constructing a deity that accommodates man’s desires and intellect. Such are the world’s religions, including Christianity. The word religion is a man made term that defines an organized concept of a deity who both created the universe and interacts with it as well. Religion usually has rules and tenants, and it usually outlines a lifestyle that must be adhered to in order to please or appease this deity. And so most of the world trudges through life stretching from one momentary satisfaction to the next and deriving a sense of destiny with whatever religion is available in that culture. In short, the world is one colossal community of lost sinners who have become quite adept at masking their true identity and blindness through paths of personal accomplishments and organized spiritual enlightenment. “No rest for the weary” says the proverb. And yet mankind finds only stepping stones of rest interrupted by bouts of doubt, failure, and an insatiable need for more or different. Even in most religions there are levels to climb and badges to be gained through greater knowledge and adherence to the set of rules made especially for that particular religious cache. When viewed as a whole it is a gigantic cosmic treadmill occupied by the sea of humanity. It never ends, never arrives, and strives to control those within it by systematically moving the target and many times these religious systems do not even provide any place of rest and destination. Such are religions of every kind and variety; their common thread is control, human effort, and usually a caste system of division and hierarchy. Even many constructs that call themselves “Christian” have borrowed from other religions as it pertains to practice and methodology. These false structures offer little rest and are religious streams that continually demand more and even teach that peace can only come through a regimen of human endeavors designed to please/appease the Father God. They promise life while teaching death, and they promise freedom while bringing men into bondage. And remarkably enough, while so much of western Christianity has been fashioned according to this world, and while so much of the evangelical structure appears to be liberal and with very little sacrifice and discipline, in reality it has become a prison that offers only more of the same and void of any true rest. Believers follow a religion or a denomination or a church but not the Risen Christ. We as professing believers should not follow rules; we should follow Christ. It may be a subtle difference sometimes that is often lost upon the evangelical Bourgeoisie, but the difference is life and death. One believer does not get drunk because his denomination teaches it and his preacher preaches against it, but another believer refrains from intoxication because the love of Christ constrains him. “What’s the difference”, you ask? The distinction defines the difference between bondage and freedom, between love and law, and between Jesus and religion. Look with your imagination as hordes of sinners who name Jesus as their Lord march to and fro on Sunday to a building, only to repeat the spectacle the following week; watch as they chit-chat in the parking lot about almost everything but Jesus. Observe the enormous amounts of money given to pay church mortgages and inflated staff salaries. If you could invisibly follow many church pastors and staff members you might be surprised. You might see many hours talking on the phone with friends and family; you might see weekly golf games and many elongated lunch appointments usually with peers and/or the higher element of the evangelical membership. You might observe hours speaking about financial investments and energy spent talking about things which are not profitable. You might even watch as your pastor gets the bulk of Sunday’s message from the internet or some sermon book. And behold how creative are the sermon series that are designed to keep the interest of the congregation and simultaneously draw in sinners interested in solving their particular problems. And Biblical unpleasantness is ardently avoided and relevant bridges are built to appeal to the earthly interests of mankind. Jesus is usually an aside who makes a cameo appearance at the sermon’s end as the preacher attempts to leverage the raising of hands. It is all so predictable. Arrive at the building early on Sunday and count the heads that are bowed in prayer; include the staff and pastor in your count. And when the “service” is over, follow the staff and parishioners as they sashay to the nearest restaurant and enjoy a post theatre repast. It appears so free and footloose and yet it is the most insidious form of bondage. And as you follow your church leaders, count the hours in prayer. In fact, do a personal survey concerning the proportion of activities to the number of corporate prayer meetings. Is it that bad? Fast and pray for four days and at the end ask the Spirit how bad it is. But be prepared, the Holy Spirit will also hold up a mirror that reveals things about you and me. But this mirror is not meant to condemn and bring us into bondage; this mirror is meant to increase hunger and thirst for righteousness which is only found in the Person of Jesus, the Risen and Reigning Lord of All. The time is ripe for a revival. I do not speak of some contrived healing revival with miracle snake oil salesman and dog and pony shows. I speak of something much deeper and much closer to God’s own heart. We need a return to Jesus. If you have been paying even the slightest bit of attention to what has been happening in the western evangelical church you probably are aware of at least one thing; there are movements afoot that are preaching another Jesus. This Jesus is interested in political issues and social injustice and earthly pleasures but this Jesus is not interested in eternal redemption. That Jesus is a false Jesus and that Jesus cannot save. But perhaps you have missed another issue in the western church, namely that those of us who profess and confess the true Christ have become self righteous, hedonistic, judgmental, militaristic, and content with our own profoundly lacking spiritual journey to follow Jesus. And it is there where I wish to take us. All the things I have addressed about others may be accurate and true, but if we are satisfied with identifying the spiritual needs in others but are blind to our own incredible need for repentance and revival we are no better than the ones we criticize or indeed the Pharisees of old. We are in desperate need of seeking Jesus and finding our complete rest in Him once more. We get so caught up with so many issues and doctrinal nuances that we have left our first love. The cultural tsunami has overwhelmed us and like Samson we do not even know our power is gone. The church blends in nicely with culture, and I do not just mean in terms of hedonism and seeking wealth, but many times the issues of love, mercy, and grace are unremarkable in the context of humanistic manifestations of the same. Shouldn’t followers of Jesus exhibit pronounced manifestations of the characteristics of Jesus Christ that are light years more profound than are their unbelieving counter parts and are indeed unexplainable by pure human logic? It is not enough to be “doctrinally pure”; we must also be pure in our life revelation of the Redeemer. It matters what we believe, but it also matters how we live what we believe. Paul calls us “living epistles” that are read by people who do not read the Scriptures, and in Paul’s day, could not read at all. Think about that for a moment. Many people came to believe in Jesus primarily through observing those who followed Jesus and hearing them share about Jesus. Can you believe it? The ministry of the Holy Spirit called redemption is active even without all the relevant bells and whistles we leverage today. People are searching for rest, and tragically they do not see that rest in the western church. We as believers have been searching for rest in homes and cars and careers and investments, but we have quit resting in Jesus, except as a doctrinal core of redemption. And even that is rapidly dissipating among evangelicals. We run to and fro just like the lost world, but with our lips we profess Jesus is our rest. He is not…He has not left…we have. But let us now turn our eyes and hearts to Jesus. Jesus. He is the eternal rest…the only eternal rest. Perhaps those who die without Christ are sentenced to the torture of attempting to work more and more in order to gain an entrance into heaven, only to find it impossible, but being unable to stop. But Jesus has provided an eternal rest. But that rest was not without cost. There is absolutely no way to fully understand the suffering that Jesus took upon Himself to purchase our eternal rest. And even while he endured the pain and the shame for our sins, and even in the midst of suffering the horrors of hell itself, He knew that most would reject Him while others would even deny the gift that God was providing by eviscerating the essence of the substitutionary punishment He was displaying. He became sin for us that we may be made in His righteousness. Just the thought of such a thing soars above the fallen mind, and even with the guidance of the Spirit we are left spellbound with unsearchable amazement. Jesus, our Jesus, has become our exclusive and complete rest. We dare not attach any human hands or ceremony to His pristine redemption, for they not only detract, they may indeed nullify. Framed in the eternal moment is Jesus. There are only forgeries and pretenders other than Jesus the Risen Christ. God’s work is finished, and we either enter into that work by faith or we die with our own efforts. Put down your religion, O sinner, and take those hands off the tiller of your own ship. Count up all your good works and burn that tally sheet as if it was an enemy. Cease any self pleading and intercession and sit down undone and without any claim to any goodness at all. Render yourself perfectly helpless and churning incessantly both inside and out seeking a rest that cannot be found. Have you come to your end, or have you energy still that bids you to search for your own answer? Are you still willing to toil in your own garden or have you come to the end of yourself and your own righteousness? Lay it all aside forever and cling by faith to the crimson robe of the High Priest of Eternal Rest. Away with all earthly endeavors that attempt to purchase some temporary rest, and away with all religions that add and subtract to the glory of that one and singular harbor of rest, namely the Captain of our Salvation Jesus. Recline on those scarlet wounds and drink deeply of the divine blood that was shed for you. Put on the Lord Jesus and repose in the finished work of His cross. Allow the serenity of His eternal peace to energize your heart and mind, and with that knowledge of Him, let it empower you to walk in Him and not yourself. It is Him and Him alone that must shine forth, and men must see your good works as His and not in any way medallions of your own righteous power. In all things He must have the preeminence.
And so fellow pilgrim, board this ship of Zion and await the Captain’s orders.
There is no need of life boats or the maps of men.
And in the power of His love and redemption…rest in absolute obedience and worship.
Did I mention that this ship you board already rests in the eternal harbor?
Did I mention that this ship has already completed it's voyage successfully?
Did I mention that this ship has already been shipwrecked once?
Did I mention this ship rose from death's depths?
Did I mention that this ship's name as well as its Captain is Jesus?
The Captain invites you to dine at His table...forever.
If you are an orthodox Christian believer you will identify with these things:
We need to work on humility, love, grace, witnessing, and a broken and fierce desire to emulate and obey Jesus Christ.
But there are things that are being promoted by a number of liberal and evangelical sources that are slowly but surely being espoused and even championed by the western church. Here are ten issues that are being obviously touted by forces within the western church.
1. A serious reductionism of the Scriptures. Little by little the Scriptures are being reduced to nothing but metaphor and imagery and are open to everyone’s own interpretation.
2. A redefining of Jesus. The incarnation is being diluted in favor of a more human Jesus.
3. A replacing of the gospel by human works. Feeding the poor and social causes have replaced the preaching of the gospel.
4. A serious and drastic moving away from the cross of Jesus. The cross is almost ignored in many evangelical circles and the sufferings of Jesus get hardly a mention.
5. Redemption is losing its eternal essence in favor of elevating people’s earthly standing and condition.
6. The resurrection is now a metaphor for starting over and no longer is preached as the exclamation point over the victory over sin and death.
7. An open door policy to all sorts of heresy without even the slightest rebuke or correction. Even John Shelby Spong has just recently been given a charitable platform by an emergent leader.
8. Sin is almost ignored and is downplayed as it concerns the cross and as it concerns our lives as believers.
9. Intellectualism has fast become an idol as it concerns understanding the Scriptures. Philosophy, higher criticism, and Hebraic prisms are now in vogue in interpreting the Scriptures.
10. Universalism, the teaching that all will one day be saved, is rapidly gaining acceptance within western evangelicalism. Eternal punishment is considered archaic and almost assigned to ignorant snake handlers. This age of enlightenment has moved beyond such distasteful and ignorant doctrines.
Of course there are more issues, but these ten are very prominent. Guard your heart and be a stingy caretaker over your ears and eyes. Deception comes draped in truth and many times is much more appealing than is the truth.
First it was a discussion on the nature of Scripture. Then came the nature of redemption and the cross. And finally it is the nature of Jesus Himself. Bishop John Spong is an open heretic who dismisses the New Testament as fiction and teaches that Jesus was not God in the flesh as we understand it. If you need more than that and if that does not outrage you then perhaps you are in league with Mr. Spong.
Listen to the interview from this post and see if the warnings about Rob Bell, Doug Pagitt, and Brian McClaren and the entire emergent movement are warranted. All of us will give an account one day.
There is a god who is worshiped and revered above all other gods and God. This god is sought with countless hours of sacrifice and energy, and for this god many will gladly give up their very lives. This god reigns supreme in the church of Jesus Christ, and although this god has another name he still rules in the affairs of the western church. This god has changed the gospel and compromised even the most committed saints. He laid the foundation for his authority slowly and with clandestine cunning, but eventually he ascended to his throne openly and with the applause of those who claimed to follow Christ. He now enjoys the attention of the church both personally and collectively. When this god sends his blessings Christians are happy, and when his blessings fail the church is despondent. There is no sacrifice too great to please and appease this god. Many will sacrifice health and family to offer acceptable obedience before this god to elicit the blessings they seek and realize can be gained through this god. The God called Jesus is no longer in authority over the western church but the church has been careful to speak his name and present all sorts of contorted caricatures that have a whiff of Christ but are cleaver and self serving imposters; this god being the most prominent imposter of them all. This god offers himself to everyone and is no respecter of persons. He has molded himself so as to claim that not only is he not against the Lord Jesus, but he is indeed the Lord Jesus. This god comes as light and is committed to everyone’s well being and earthly life. He has surreptitiously removed scores of Scriptures from the New Testament, and those he cannot hide he reinterprets to fit nicely into his “ministry”. Many former generations that followed Christ would believe it would be impossible for such teachings to be embraced by anyone and yet this god has accomplished the impossible. Western believers by the millions believe, receive, and practice his teachings while still claiming to follow Christ and believe His Word. To say it is a paradox is to treat it much more lightly than the situation would warrant. It is blind rebellion against the Lord God and His Christ and it is utter and profound apostasy. This god is much more interested in practice than he is in theology. He ignores the core teachings listed on the church statement of faith and instead he makes his own disciples from the members of that very church. His technique has been an amazing success and millions now profess to believe and follow Jesus and yet openly follow this god. And tens of thousands of churches that claim to believe the Bible openly disobey some of the most overt and simple commandments and principles. And unlike many followers of Christ, this god doesn’t just receive worship on Sunday morning. His followers bow before him every single day. Throughout the western landscape are monuments erected in honor and glory to this god. He is relentless in his pursuit of followers and his thirst for obedience is insatiable. He is generous to those who will seek him and follow his leadings. His motto is “more” and to this end there is no such thing as compromise. He operates within many different institutions and he is not impressed with small sacrifices; he demands complete and consistent loyalty to his cause. Through many decades he has bestowed his blessings upon the western believers and the church in general, and without the church realizing it his blessings have become chains. This god has many names. Greed, avarice, hedonism, and the love of money are but a few. But the name he prefers is “Blessings”. There are many roads to Lord Blessing and all them are good and right, and if by chance you can connect the Lord Jesus to any of those roads all the better. But to do that you must ignore or at least change the clear teachings of Jesus and the New Testament as a whole. Here are some of the verses that must be eviscerated and repackaged to accommodate Lord Blessing.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
There was a day when followers of Jesus did not even count their lives as precious, to say nothing of their possessions. But the western church of today infuses the evil culture with billions of interest dollars because of the massive debt they incurred on their buildings. Have you ever heard of a church borrowing a million dollars to give to missions? But most churches think nothing of getting into presumptuous debt as they build larger and more elaborate buildings. And the average congregation member is currently heaping up money for retirement which may never come while believers in Darfur and elsewhere starve. Lord Blessing is a demanding god and he cares nothing for starving people in other and distant parts of the world. Who is my neighbor? Is it whoever lives in a 25 mile radius? The same state? The same country? Are we as Christians held accountable for the dire needs of people around the world? And given the amount of waste, entertainment, debt, and other misuses of our monetary recourses can it really be said we are doing the work of Jesus? So Lord Blessing whose middle names are “material” and “self” continues to play his flute and the church continues to dance. There are those instances where preachers are revealed to have million dollar houses, jets, and all kinds of hedonistic lifestyles. But do not be fooled into thinking they are an anomaly. They are just the magnification of the general spiritual condition of the western church in general. Why does a pastor of a larger church get paid more? In my experience he has a larger staff and generally the pastor of 100 members works as hard and sometimes harder than the megachurch pastor. Many large church pastors also have investments on the side as well as their high priced salary. The Apostle Paul was born 2000 years too early. The reason the pastor of a larger church gets paid more is because the church is modeled after the secular business community. We are blind and in darkness in the west. We have left the life of Jesus while still dotting all our doctrinal “i”s on paper. In fact, if a group of believers decided to live like Jesus here they would be considered a dangerous cult. Jesus asked, “When the Son of Man returns will He find faith on earth?” He would find an organization that used His trademark, but in reality it would be an aftermarket brand that is non-compatible with the original. The western church today worships Jesus with their lips and Lord Blessing with their lives. The god of the church is no longer Jesus.
Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
The list of approved mediums through which one can express love to another is wide and varied. But there is no deeper and more profound way to express one’s love than to die for someone you love. But when that someone you love is your enemy, and yet you still choose to die for them, well, that my friends cannot be completely understood by any human mind or heart. That kind of love soars beyond the reach of the combined imaginations of all the greatest poets ever born.
Additional communications to me may be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Any negative e-mails will be deleted without response, however sincere questions will be answered. I seek edification and deeper knowledge of Christ and His truth not a destructive and meaningless religious chatter. May God's Spirit open all of our hearts to Him.
I am an ordained Baptist minister but more importantly I am a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. I was saved in 1975 watching Billy Graham on television after having lived a wicked and Christless life. I graduated with a three year degree from Trinity Bible College in Dunedin, Florida. I have three children, two grandsons, and one granddaughter. I not only see the obvious falling away of the present day church, but I humbly acknowledge that we all are in desperate need of a massive revival. I hope this blog ministers to you, and may Jesus Himself receive all the preeminence!