Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Gospel for the Wretched

Rom.7:24 - O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
o often the evangelical church has become some kind of moral policeman. And many times preachers have spoken as if they speak for God. And when sinners exhibit lifestyles that are unbiblical as it pertains to the conduct commanded of believers, they castigate them. It is oh so easy to hurl invectives at the wretched mob of lost sinners, especially those who are the most public and demonstrative in their unrighteous displays.
Like shooting fish in a barrel preachers think so highly of themselves and often label themselves as “standing for truth” as they confront immoral behavior among lost sinners. So many have been lured into the ministry of cleaning the outside of the cup while being completely clueless about the nature of the gospel as well as the grace wherein they stand without a speck of righteousness accomplished on their own. And in so doing the gospel is now seen by the unregenerate as a set of moralistic rules and regulations with the name of Jesus pasted on the back.
But how quickly we forget that we were once a card carrying member of that fallen race, and that when Christ went to the cross He went for that entire wretched mob from whom we were plucked. From the serial adulterer, to the self righteous church goer, to the rich corporate executive, to the practicing gay couple, to the porn addict, to the kind and gentle new ager, they all remain equal in God’s eyes. They all are lost and fall short of His glory. If God desired to identify and take quantitative and qualitative inventory of the sins of lost sinners there would be no time for the gospel.
It is this kind of moralistic Christianity that has defanged the church and made it little more than a familiar cultural entity. No more does the church upset the culture by the strength of its humility; no more are things altered due to the constant prayer and fastings; no more are people overwhelmed by the sheer and unconditional love exhibited toward sinners.
Many now identify western Christians by their moral or political convictions and not that they remind them of Jesus. This is very sad. Many of the church epistles deal with issues, practical and moral, but we must not forget that they were written to believers who have the guidance and power of God’s Spirit. A lost man can never understand the things of the Spirit. He is only too willing to debate moral issues on a platform of culture, politics, and human reason. And much of the church has fallen for that ruse.
And after several decades of Christian political action groups and men like Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell leading moral crusades the church began to lose her spiritual moorings and ended up not only vulnerable to movements like the emergent church, but spiritually adrift. And in the midst of ever deepening darkness the church has continued to lose what light she still had, until today where millions upon millions upon millions of professing believers exist side by side with the darkness with little if any impact at all.
And armed with incredible technology, a prosperous congregation, Madison Avenue advertising techniques, and a literal plethora of activities, the church only twitches like a dying animal. She has been assimilated and now sees the gospel as some relic of days gone bye. Look at the wording about such a church in revelation.
Rev.3:16-18 - So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
otice the word “wretched”. God uses that very word to describe a prosperous and self absorbed church. Are we so spiritually deaf that we cannot even see the obvious and striking similarities to the western church of today? And are our personal relationships so important to us that we refuse the voice of God’s Spirit in order to maintain the status quo? Will we ever be able to be painfully serious about these things?
Look at the first verse of that passage. A lukewarm church makes God sick. I am not under the delusion that we can be perfect this side of eternity, but I believe I could take an unbeliever, read the New Testament to him, and ask him if what he sees in today’s church in any way resembles what he just heard. And if that unbeliever might see a disconnect, then why oh why cannot the born again followers of Jesus Christ recognize what a desperate situation exists in the church today?
It is time for us to buy gold from God that is tried in the fire. It is time to run to the prayer closets with great fervor and passion, and like Jacob of old not let go of God until he reigns His Pentecostal fire down upon us once more! I do not speak of what passes for God’s fire today. I am not referring to some contrived dog and pony show that only elevates a person and lines his evil pockets. I am speaking of the fire of repentance that sets us free from the chains of this fallen culture, and sends us into the darkness with the unmistakable incandescence of the everlasting gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ! We need a move of the Spirit that cannot be traced to any man or movement, but has been kindled in the prayer gatherings in homes and churches and parks and lunch breaks. And pastor’s conferences that were to be centered on church growth morph into all night prayer meetings. And what was billed as a Christian get together to hear about political candidates ends with believers weeping on their faces before the Consuming Fire!
Dear friends we don’t need more organization, we don’t need more conservative politics, we don’t need more eloquent preaching, we don’t need more buildings, and we do not need more Washington prayer breakfasts like the one today. That kind is an affront to the character and integrity of a Holy God. God forbid we ever have a get together just to pray without food and a special speaker. And even though it makes people feel religious, in reality it just adds condemnation upon them.
We don’t need any new and innovative ideas, and we don’t need some more enthusiasm. What we need is a resurrection. Like spiritual zombies the church is packed with activities and programs that serve to corral and organize people but spiritually are ecclesiastical sarcophagi. They seem to be alive but they are dead men walking. We need God’s Spirit to do in us what we cannot do in ourselves.
Is.64:1-6 - Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence,
2 As when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence!
3 When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence.
4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.
5 Thou meetest him that rejoiceth and worketh righteousness, those that remember thee in thy ways: behold, thou art wroth; for we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.
6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Our sin is wretched before us. Even so, let thy will be done in us our Redeemer and Lord…


Anonymous said...


MtgMan said...

Dear God! Have mercy on me, chief among sinners. I want to be more like my Savior each day that I breath the air that He gave me. Help me, my Lord and my God, to be more effective in my witness of Your grace and mercy to a lost and dying world...