Saturday, March 31, 2012

Your House is Left Desolate
Acts 2:42-47 - And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Acts 3:1 - Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

Acts 4:29-37 - And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,
30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.
31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,
37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

Acts 6:4 - But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

Those who say they believe in Jesus and are followers of His life and teachings do not have the luxury, much less the authority, of creating their own spiritual practices and calling them Christian. It is disingenuous, misleading, and even deceitful to give lip service to the Christ while constructing a religious practice that ignores large portions of His Word and even openly practices things that are at odds with that same Word. But that is precisely what much of the western church has done.

The evangelical expressions of the gathering we call church are the source of the spiritual independence that continues to stray from the Scriptural mandate. And when the foundational institution is significantly flawed and is infecting those flaws throughout the body, then the individual believer ultimately lives with a bastardized expression of a disciple of Christ. Like a computer virus, the infected teachings and practice that claim to be of Christ but are not, affect every area of the church collectively and individually. It is most sad and hurtful, and it grieves the Spirit as well as openly displays another Jesus.

Do not assume that this phenomenon is relegated to the Osteens and Warrens and Bells of the evangelical world. No, this contamination is widespread in the west and has infiltrated even the most “orthodox” of ecclesiastical expressions. And in an ingenuous deception, the enemy of our souls keeps the most orthodox groups in their own bondage by using the most grievous spiritual offenders as blinders within the so called orthodox community. In essence, when we in the orthodox community become obsessed with false teachers we slowly but surely lose the energy and indeed the perception needed to see and address our own Scriptural compromises. Our discernment of others, regardless how Biblically correct, becomes a stumbling block in our own corporate and individual spiritual lives.

And this kind of deception only accumulates more deception when practiced over numerous generations. And we are reinforced in our own deceptions by comparing ourselves with ourselves, and by seeing how Biblical we are in comparison to the compromises and even apostasy of others. And human idolatry, which is prevalent with the church, is another form of reinforcement. The church has its favorite teachers and preachers, and not only are we willing to give great credence to what they teach and say without much personal investigation, but we are willing to make them rich. We hold their personages in great admiration.

And if I were to list the names of the men and women in the west who have gained a following it would number in the hundreds and perhaps thousands. And their following numbers in the millions. Believers by the millions watch “Christian” television and remain ignorant that all the different programs teach something at odds with each other, and most of them teach another gospel and another Jesus. Indeed, Christian television has become a gold mine for preachers and a disgrace to the cause of Christ.

But the absurd, lavish lifestyles of the more famous preachers should not blind us to the way the average local assembly lives and believes. Even though the volume of prosperity is less, and even though many preachers would reject the so called “prosperity message”, the local church in general practices a form of the same. The believers have come into the local church with a culturally disfigured view of Biblical truth, and that perspective creates a fissured foundation whose cracks widen with every decade. So the Person of Christ as expressed through the church and His people becomes little more than a culture of religion that is known primarily by their moral views, which are usually one or two main issues. Obviously divorce and remarriage is not one of them.

And since people are in great debt to the world’s financial system, compromise is inevitable. And since the people are in great debt, they have little difficulty approving great debt for the church as well. And billions of dollars of mortgage interest given by God’s people go back into a fallen system and are used by that fallen system to fund all sorts of antichrist systems. And this is what we say is God’s will and way? Can we even say that with a straight face anymore? Take another look at my original verses.

There seems to be an indication that the early believers were in financial covenant with each other, even to the degree that the wealthy sold their wealth in order to minister to the believing poor among them. Now think about that for a moment. How often do we appeal to the early church fathers to understand some church doctrine, but we seem to gloss over this early practice? Let us say for arguments sake that Jesus does not desire the church today to mirror what they did in Acts. I am not willing to say that with full conviction, but let us assume that for now. But even if we are not to have all things in common anymore (Can you imagine even implying such a thing in the west? There would be violence in the sanctuary!), do not these verses provide for us the heart of God concerning wealth and material things? Even if we are not to sell all our earthly goods, how should what the early church did, recorded and published by God’s Spirit, affect what we believe about wealth and what we practice in the community of believers?

I am fully convinced that at the heart of nationalism and patriotism in America is the love of money. It is at the very core of the “American Dream”. And the church has embraced such a notion and changed the way we believe and changed the way we exhibit our faith and the Person of Christ. And today, that which should be obviously unbiblical and at odds with all the Jesus taught and lived, is embraced and practiced by thousands upon thousands of local churches who name His name. How in God’s name can that be? How did we get so far off course?

And this deep compromise is not hidden under layers of deception that are not easily unearthed. No, the compromises and blatant Scriptural disobediences by the western church are obvious to anyone who has not been blinded by culture and by years of systematic indoctrination by false teaching and by false practice. Give a Bible to a new believer with absolutely no Biblical knowledge or history, and ask him to read the New Testament through and through for two years. And after he has done so, ask him about how the church and the individual believer should live within this hedonistic culture.

Ask that believer about debt. Ask that believer about Christian cruises. Ask that uninfected believer about staff salaries and personal sacrifice. Ask him about capitalism. Ask him about national allegiance and pluralistic democracy. Go ahead, ask him. And when I suggested that scenario to one of the leading Christian teachers in America, his astonishing reply was, “That is why we need teachers.” What!?!? Look at what he is saying. He is suggesting that an uninfected and virgin view of the Scriptures must be brought into conforming with the majority by teaching him what we believe and how we practice it. And unconsciously, that man has identified the very crux of the problem.

So I am openly contending that the western church by and large no longer practices the teachings of the New Testament. I am contending that the culture in which we live has so affected and infected our lifestyles, as well as our thought processes, that we have become blind to the teachings of Scripture. Have you ever seen a picture that is designed to deceive your eyesight? And because you believe you are looking at something else, you are tricked into seeing what you think you see and not what you should see. That is called a visual trick, and magicians use that to trick and amaze us.

But that is what has happened to the western church. We read Scripture with a preconceived view of truth that has been formed by reason and the surrounding culture (A great portion being the educational system), and our Scriptural interpretation comes to us through that cultural prism and not through the Holy Spirit and the literal truth that seems so at odds with everything we think we know as “settled law” within the ecclesiastical expressions and beliefs we have come to embrace. In short. We think we see truth but we have been fooled by our own altered state of spiritual reality. Our Christianity has been refashioned to conform to western cultural mores and now our hearts and minds are deceiving us into believing lies. It is quite a sophisticated process. And it can rightly be called spiritual magic or witchcraft.

And when one compromise has been cemented into the church and the lives of believers, another one becomes less difficult to embrace. After a number of decades the compromise becomes immobilizing and removes any authentic spiritual power, and after many, many decades the beliefs and practices of that church can no longer be identified as Christian. Regardless of the five or four or three solas or whatever you present as your qualifications for being “orthodox”, in practice we have become a religious cultural institution that blends ever so nicely with a well rounded western lifestyle. The words of the prophet have come true,

Matt.15:8-9 - This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.
9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.

And so millions of pew dwellers sit and are comforted by their faithfulness to their local gathering, but are unaware of either their eternal predicament or their shallow and convenient lifestyle. But the music is moving, and the collective goal of building projects binds their hearts and minds. But as Jesus once observed about Jerusalem, your house is laid waste even through you say you are “rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing”.

And it is not enough to become aware of these things. Far from it. Those to whom the Spirit has given a clearer vision are the more accountable and will give the greater answer on that day. Without a massive revival there is no answer. The situation is so desperate and so desolate, and there is so much that needs to brought down, that only the Spirit is able to do all that needs to be done. And the entrance to that kind of move of the Spirit of God can only be paved with unusual, penetrating, and elongated prayer. Without a move of prayer nothing can be accomplished but that which is of the flesh.

So here we stand, indicted personally and collectively before our God. Most could never receive such a message, and many will even become angry. But perhaps there are some who receive an imperfect but legitimate assessment of our spiritual condition. Perhaps some will disregard the flawed messenger and embrace the Spirit’s exhortation. Perhaps some will have their eyes opened and the hearts turned and begin a long journey that is not without sacrifice and suffering. Perhaps there are a few. Perhaps.


Anonymous said...

Trial's and persecution is a great remedy!

Anonymous said...

I just want to, like Job, put my hands over my mouth and sit down.

Anonymous said...

This is it!

It's come to this, and we wondered why there were no miracles and healings and power anymore. At least here in the West. In revelations, the Laodician church (last) is told, "I know they works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot."

"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. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, thou thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of they nakedness to not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent."

So many churches that claim they are apostolic have tried to follow the example of Acts, but one thing they overlook, and that is having all things in common. The tithe doesn't allow for that. The tithe is for a capitalistic community. To each his own, and give to the priest your 10%. If a poor family have little, they give a penny. If a millionnaire couple give, it's a nice nest egg for the pastor's church. And the pastor's salary grows exponentially as new rich members join his church. But the same poor couple stay poor and still give that penny.

This doesn't make sense at all.

I'm so thankful that the Lord has divulged this to Bro. Rick; I pray you continue to be revealed so much more.

If we could understand what the Lord meant in Rev. 3:18, where He counsels us to buy of Him gold tried in the fire. Would that mean we have to leave our way of life? This sure opens up a new dilemna for us in the West. We are so entrenched in our way of life, is it possible for us to live the way it's expected? So many things to ponder and pray on.

May the Lord give us all here wisdom and understanding. In Jesus' Name!!

Anonymous said...

It was so good to read what my heart was pondering about todays churches. I am one of the poorer Americans and have been all of my life. But rich with Jesus! I have wondered at the elite christian cruises that we are invited to share each year and felt alienated and turned offed by. How could such great preachers of the word be so blind I wonder. I need fellow believers who I can relate to on my level. How can anyone see the conditions that other people live in around the world and still climb aboard that cruise ship in the name of Christianity. Yes it's fine to enjoy ones life and travel if you can but how does that draw those of us who have not in the (church)to feel we are one. If it takes a luxurious cruise to bring you closer to your creator how will you fare during the hard time. I need only look out at the trees as I walk along the same old places where I live and I am filled with his presence and love.
And finally I believe there are a growing number of elite churches in each community because we have visited them in search of a place to come. It is strange that in the end times so many have become lost or blinded by lifestyle and wealth. They truly cannot see the forest because of the trees.
Thank you for letting me know Iam not alone.