Saturday, April 28, 2012

To Glory in Him

To Glory Only in Him

I Cor.1:12-13 - Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

Walk through a Christian bookstore. Or peruse through a catalogue of Christian books and Bibles. One such catalogue was sent to me in the mail. It has all sorts of commentaries and Bibles and Christian trinkets for sale. And if you see through the Spirit you will discover just how commercial men have made the faith. And it isn’t just limited to the sale of such things since it is not wrong to own spiritual helps. But it is the nature and commercial appeal of those things.

In the catalogue sent to my home I found scores of different Bibles. Not just different translations or paraphrases, but many different titles. There were the student’s Bible, the worker’s Bible, the teen Bible, the women’s Bible, the couple’s Bible, all of which had attractive covers. And then there was the Patriot’s Bible which added the founding father’s perspective and favorite verses.

And many of the Bible’s had a man or women’s name attached to them. The Scofield Bible, the Dake Bible, the Darby Bible, the John MacArthur Bible, The Criswell Bible, and a vast array of other Bibles with men’s name emblazoned on the front. There is the King James Bible, the American Standard Bible, and all sorts of other names. I do consider it rather unseemly to humanize the Bible and to uplift some man’s interpretation on the very front of a Bible. It is a subtle and not so subtle way to elevate the works and wisdom of man.

But there were hundreds of other books and Cds available for purchase as well. Most of them were adorned with attractive and colorful covers and many had other men and women’s endorsements. The entire spectacle seemed like a carnival of man rather than a lifting up of the Lord Jesus. And when we attempt to use the sales techniques of the fallen world we diminish and significantly misrepresent the gospel, discipleship, and the Lord Jesus Himself. Somehow I can see Christ cleansing this kind of thing.

The western church continues to lift up certain men and certain theologies and ingeniously make money on the entire scandal. One of the modern phenomenons is the affluent minister. Church history knew none of it, but today it is not only common, it is applauded by millions. And it isn’t just the prosperity preachers. It is inherent in the entire western ecclesiastical construct. Many if not most preachers make more than the average parishioner, and if you count the fringe benefits and the weekly schedule, they make way more. And they expect it.

Making men and women idols is a disgusting display of humanism regardless of how the word “Christian” is thrown around. Preachers are spiritual rack stars. Let a conference be held and it is advertised by the fame and popularity and imagery of certain men and women. But Paul would have none of that.

Gal.2:6 - But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:

Take a step back and look at things through the unvarnished perspective of the Word and the Spirit. Forget the sincerity of those who you admire, and just assess things through the abstract prism of God’s eternal Word. These things did not degenerate over night. This departure happened through systematic toleration of behavior that was antithetical to the kingdom of God. After the Industrial Revolution, while the culture began to prosper and pursue commercialism and intellectual knowledge, the church followed suit. And today, by any honest evaluation and perspective, the church has become a business.

And this business is a multi-level ponzi scheme that promises benefits to, and elicits the desired funds from, the religious Proletariat and uses those very funds to line the pockets of the religious Bourgeoisie. It is fascinating to watch and diabolical when understood. And at the center of it all is money and power. It has absolutely no spiritual benefit and it not only is a continuing western cycle, but it grows in scope and creativity. It is in essence an undeclared war on the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Quiet boldness has given way to flashy commercialism. While Christ was called “that fellow” men must be addressed as reverend or apostle or bishop. Conferences are not called to pray and fast together, they are called to excite the flesh or reestablish some doctrine already embraced by those who attend. And the speakers and singers stay in first class hotels, eat first class meals, and are remunerated with first class “gratuities”. And the speakers and singers sell their Cds and books and make handsome paychecks. And most repulsive is the so called “Christian cruise”. That is a combination of hedonism, gluttony, and idol worship practiced on the high seas. You can read about a true Christian cruise below:

A Christian Cruise

The temple money changers had nothing on us. But after years of acceptance and cultural acquiescence, we have become deaf and blind. We do not even question our practices, especially when they are embraced by some of those we admire. Millionaire preachers from Macarthur to Copeland to Robertson hawk their wares and make merchandise of professing believers. God’s Word came free, and Christ’s redemption is free, but I must pay to hear a preacher or a singer? What kind of madness have we constructed?

But let us return to God’s Word and let it purify our hearts.

I Cor.1:23-31 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

When God says that no flesh should glory in His presence, is God being metaphorical or ethereal? Does He expect us to live out spiritually and practically that concept? We should always downplay our own importance, and one day we will understand just how insignificant we were in the light of His august significance. Every slight elevation of ourselves is thievery to His glory. And to think, we have the audacity to put man’s name on the cover of God’s Word. And in the forward men with titles and letters of the alphabet after their names lend their approval in writing.

It’s time we let God approve us and our service to Him. It’s time we take up John the Baptist’s motto, “He must increase, but I must decrease”. That very concept seems so out of touch and irrelevant to these modern times. But we cannot, we must not, glory in anything but the Lord and all His works and ways. We continue to glory in men and women and buildings and countries and financial increase and human knowledge, but we have eschewed the glory of the Lord.

Paul says he preaches Christ crucified. Where oh where is that preaching today? It has been relegated to an evangelistic service and mostly isolated from Sunday mornings and in the lives of believers. We have become too sophisticated for the message of the cross and the cross bearing walk of faith. We desire discussions about predestination and young earth theories and epistle authorship and translation allegiances, but when it comes to discussing how far we have strayed from embracing and exhibiting the cross of Christ we remain uninterested.

What does it mean to “glory in the Lord”? How does that find tangible evidence in the lives of believers? And just the fact that we must delve into that topic indicates how long it has been ignored or redefined. We now have professional worship leaders, professional counselors, professional sound system controllers, professional nursery workers, professional teen ministers, professional CD makers, professional fund raisers, and a long list of paid “servants”. How did the early church ever survive?

But since there is no swelling movement to seek the face of God and to enter into a more self denying discipleship, we must approach it individually and with the encouragement of a very few. Do not be deceived, though, you will be seen as out of touch and even self righteous. And every time someone accuses you of self righteousness be sure and humbly agree with them. You are. I am. And if you set out on a journey to seek and know Him in ways that have not been known to you before now, He is waiting to reveal Himself to your hungry heart.

Prayer must be a cornerstone of such a journey, and if that be the case, be ready to sacrifice many things that have cluttered your life. Time is passing gold. Reach out and take hold of such treasure, and place it before Him. He owns the entire universe and has need of nothing. However the one thing He desires is your heart. Not just as a doctrinal acquaintance, but as a chamber wherein He resides and is constantly glorified.

Do not ask me why He desires to fellowship and be worshiped by us. That is a mystery. But if the cross does not substantiate His desire for us, then nothing will. And in that case, eat, drink, and be merry. Tomorrow we die. But if we can get a glimpse of Who He is and what He has done, then it should change us forever.

Matt.13:45 - Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls:
46 Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is sadly all so true.

Years ago, I remember an American healing preacher that had a "name" in the pentecostal circles and travelled with his large family doing tent revivals. He came to a church one night, and had people come to the altar (he had a burden for those with vices and addictions, and this night it was for smoking). The line was long and he spent much time with each one, praying and calling out the addiction. The lady that was with me brought her baby who had a chronic disability, poor eyesight, slow growth problems and we waited for the evangelist to call out others with different afflictions, as there were parents with children who were sick as well. The service went well into the 1;00 am time, and this baby was so tired and began crying. It was time to go.

We waited. This mother wanted nothing more than her child to be touched by God's healing power, or at least have him prayed over by a man with the gift of healing. We finally got the nerve and sent a message on a paper by an usher to the evangelist that a baby was sick and so tired and needed to go home. It had to come to us going through the roof (figuratively) and lowering an innocent baby down into the spotlight to get Jesus' attention? This evangelist heard the baby's cries through the whole evening service and should have had a heart for a baby and it's worried mother.

It took a long time on my personal walk to realize that men can't possibly know what priorities are in the House, although they preach that they are discerning, and there's a lot of spectacle, drama, and entertainment that goes on more than real true Gift of the Spirit ministry. It seals the idea for me that men (even evangelists) are just men and at some point we are going to have to trust Jesus without mediators, and until true mediators, with compassion, minister, then we'll have to increase our faith in the Lord for healing on our own, in our prayer closet. These times seem to demand that we all have to push the envelope with individual faith.