Repent, While There is Still Time
I can no longer believe that many so called “evangelical” churches are even Christian. Churches by the tens of thousands, led by their pastors, have strayed so far from the New Testament directive that they are no longer Christian. That does not mean no one is saved because that cannot be discerned by man. A person’s salvation can only be known by God. The Lord knows those that are His.
But if we take a step back, and if we examine the teachings of Christ and the New Testament without cultural dilution, we must see how tragic the situation is. And it comes from many different avenues and theological streams. From the health and wealth movement, to the emergent church movement, to the purpose driven template, to the positive thinking teaching, to the ecumenical debacle, and many other movements, we now have a mess that cannot truthfully be called Christian.
What we have are religious constructs which are built and operate in the power of the culture and the mindset of the western populace. There is no hint of salt or light, and no hint of "come out from among them and be separate". Some churches claim Jesus was a he-man and demonstrated a virile sense of masculinity. Others claim He was extremely pragmatic and sought earthly solutions. Some teach that Jesus sought to dramatically elevate everyone’s personal wealth. Other churches portray Jesus as a someone who sought to unite all faiths. Many teach that Jesus was a “you can make it” kind of guy.
The entire evangelical landscape is now poisoned by all kinds of misrepresentations of Christ and His teachings, and upon those misrepresentations are built many falsehoods and grievous errors. The culture has assimilated most of the western church so that over the last several decades Christianity as it was known and practiced in the early church no longer exists in the west. Most of the western ecclesiastical construct is nothing more than practical advice about things which benefit our earthly lives. That is not Christianity.
The gospel has become nothing more than an appendage to practical advice, and God is portrayed as existing as a servant for man. Sacrifice and self denial are curse words. Preachers live as kings and spend more time golfing than they do in the prayer chamber. You have the always smiling Joel Osteen on one end, and the aggressive and self absorbed Mark Driscoll on the other. And a brand new phenomenon is the millionaire preacher. Private jets, five star restaurants, designer clothes, Rolls Royce cars, and extravagant expense accounts now define thousands of so called preachers.
No longer is Jesus the demonstrative core of their theology, to say nothing of being a living template. In many ways, Jesus has become nothing more than a doctrinal talisman that justifies any and all prostitutions of the revelations in God’s Word. As long as Jesus is mentioned preachers feel licensed to teach all sorts of heresy and cultural twisting. A man like Mark Driscoll can be rude and aggressive as long as he mentions Jesus in his statement of faith, while a man like Joel Osteen can be spineless and compromising as long as Jesus makes a cameo in his statement of faith.
And the outward signs and manifestations of a religion that says it is Christian but reveals everything to the contrary, are all around us. In fact, if you cannot see the open disfigurement of the faith once delivered to the saints you are deceived as well. And these are not minor disagreements that are more fringe than core. These modern displays tear at the very fabric of what Jesus came to do and what the church is ordained to do and be. Again I say that the situation is so horrifying and treacherous, that in good conscience most of the evangelical religious expressions can no longer be called Christian.
Oh for a humble and sincere return to the simple but bold faith that requires sacrifice, commitment, and a quiet but remarkable lifestyle of faith. The Spirit must yearn for the church to come together once more to worship Christ with all their hearts and minds without having to be manipulated by all sorts of technological accoutrements. I embrace a demonstrative worship atmosphere, and its volume is irrelevant. But when it is obvious that people are manipulated by the music or the lights or the visuals, then it becomes nothing more than a sports atmosphere that attaches a religious moniker upon it.
It is impossible to worship God on Sundays when all week long you have worshiped the world. When you go almost prayer less, and when you barely touch God’s Word, and when you have spent countless hours in front of the television, do not expect to worship God on Sunday mornings without a season of deep repentance. And when hundreds of people who have spent little or no time with Jesus during the week; and when some have lusted all week long; and when some are encumbered by the material things of this world; and when some are contemplating adultery or promiscuity; or when some have obvious unforgiveness in their hearts; when that mixed multitude can come together and outwardly seem to worship God then you can know that the music and the praise leader and his team are the driving force behind the worship service.
What kind of worship are we offering the Risen Christ? Is He impressed by the way we worship when we are supposed to and when the music vibrates our being, but when no one sees us we are as dead as toast before Him? Is that a sweet smelling savor that wafts up before His throne and gives Him glory? Or is that kind of perfunctory worship nothing more than a mirror of the Muslims when they bow before Mecca at the appointed time? Let us be painfully honest so we can do authentic business with our Master!
Finally, in an attempt to awaken that which may be dead inside of us, let us revisit the Savior, the Redeemer, and the Living and Risen Christ. Let us recall who He is and what He has done. That, my friends, is the issue. And when we describe Him there can be no hyperbole. In the revelation of Him, the most colossal hyperbole is just truth which only touches the hem of His garment! He is life itself, and in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead.
The story escapes the cords of prophetic parlance and arrives in full glory in the insignificant, little town named Bethlehem, or the house of bread. The Bread has come down from heaven and clothed Himself with a human form and is called Emmanuel, God with us. The event is historically monumental, but far greater in its spiritual consequence and redemptive power. Here is He who would save His people from their sins. How quaint the phrase but how powerful the meaning.
The perfect Son of God, incarnate in the likeness of sinful flesh, but pristine in His Person and determined in His mission. He walked the earth for more than thirty years, and He traveled with common men and common women. Conspicuous by His miracles and teachings and inconspicuous by His appearance, He lived without sin. But even the Holy One gained enemies, since the sinners He came to save did not know who He was nor did they care. But still His eyes were fixed upon Golgotha.
It is impossible to fully grasp the enormity of our sin and the enormity of the consequences of that sin. We were doomed, separated from God, and completely dead. Our lives were mere shells, and we took every opportunity to rebel against our Loving Creator, who for thirty years stood before mankind. Not only were we not looking for Him, in reality we did not desire Him. We were content and satisfied in the pigpen of our own iniquity.
But God’s Son walked right into the trap laid before Him, all the while knowing full well His fate. But the Christ did not just know what was before Him, He embraced it. In fact, He orchestrated it. What kind of love is this? There was no reasoning with us, and nothing short of death could ransom the captives. And God Himself stepped into the diabolical plan that would end His life and provide life for the unrighteous dead. This is love about which we are unfamiliar.
And there He hangs, beaten and bloodied, and nailed to two Roman planks. He who existed in the glory of heaven, the emerald aura of God’s throne room, was now the object of scorn and ridicule. Wearing the spittle of wicked men, He looks down from His unjust place of death and asks forgiveness for those who carried out this colossal injustice. Like a slaughtered animal, a Lamb to be sure, writhing in His last throws of death, He bleeds out the power to redeem all human kind.
And lifting up His mangled body, He breathes in His last breath, and with His last ounce of energy, He expels the last breath to ever enter His lungs, and He says, “It is finished”. God the Son has died. To say it is a mystery is a feeble attempt to explain it. Stand there and gaze at the unthinkable. Squint your eyes as you behold the most glorious sight a sinner could see, and yet a gory mess, limp and lifeless and covered in the crimson flow that only a few hours ago gave Him life but now is shed for ours. The Creator has given His life after suffering the unfathomable torture that was meant for every man. It should have been us, but He died in our place.
Do you think this story is much too archaic and void of the modern sophisticated thought about God and religion? Does this narrative have a hollow ring to your sensibilities and your intellectual reason? Or is this story only for children and not for the clear thinking adults? Oh my friend, if you feel that way you haven’t just missed something wonderful; you have missed life itself. We believers are not perfect, but we have touched and been touched by a redemptive power that cannot be fully communicated by words.
Jesus is our Savior, Jesus is our Lord, Jesus is our God, and Jesus is our very life! Yes, our sin sometimes distracts us and the cares of this world rob us of the experience of His presence, but do not let that fool you. It is not us you should be seeking, it is Him. And Jesus, in all His august glory, majesty, and power, will incline His redemptive ear to any sinner who cries out for salvation. Halleluiah, what a Savior!
And so you should now see why we reject the Christless expressions that are passed off as God’s church in these last days. We do not wish to pick a fight or to find fault, but we cannot, we must not, remain silent when Christ is crucified afresh on the altar of filthy lucre, pragmatism, human sexuality, earthly success, and the entire ecclesiastical industry which only uses the name of Jesus to project its own selfish agendas. No one who has been redeemed by the Master, and who has been given life and life everlasting through faith in that magnificent sacrifice, can stand silent as the Savior is misrepresented and put to an open shame.
You desire to use someone for your own self interests? Then use us, not Him. You, Warren and Osteen and Bell and all the rest, if you desire to crucify Him again through your religious and humanistic machinations we implore you, crucify us. You wish to ignore Him, then ignore us. You wish to drag His wonderful name through the wringer of earthly success and personal prosperity, then drag us. Our hearts are broken over what you are doing to the Savior of all mankind. We are torn between righteous indignation and tears of grief.
But this word of warning: One day you will wish you only had to face us, because on that day you will stand before Him from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And everything you did to shred His Person, His blood, His cross, and His glorious resurrection will come up against you. And what, pray tell, will you do when you face the Consuming Fire?
Please, repent now, while there is still time.