Monday, January 21, 2013

behold, The Mystery Disappears


Col.1: 26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

Col.2: 2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

The faith that once believed on and followed thy Lord Jesus has been stripped of the mystery. It is now proffered as a manual for common sense and reasoned morals as well as a guide for earthly success. The sacredness, the holiness, the majesty, and the mystery are all but gone. Mystery does not suggest that we do not know things, but it suggests that even that which we do know because of God’s Word contains within it a deep and sacred mystery. God is a spirit and yet who can even define the word “spirit”. Many times God gives us glimpses into His nature and essence even though He knows we cannot fathom that which the Word and the Spirit teach.

God desires us to see and approach Him with a certain amount of mystery and reverence and even fear.

But as the days go by and as the church becomes more and more assimilated into the culture, the redemptive truth seems more and more unsophisticated and outdated. In fact, more churches are now concentrating on the improvement of this life through Jesus rather than the John 3:16 theme of eternal life. Eternity is little more than a doctrine and has really no impact upon our lives here and now. We have adopted a utilitarian faith which has man at the center and not Christ. There is almost no mystery anymore.

And when you have eviscerated the mystery from God than you have made Him a servant to man and not the reverse. It is no longer what can I do to serve God. Now it is what can God do for me. And that is not Christianity. That is humanism wrapped up in a shallow package of Christian lingo. Christianity has been so dismantled and so compromised that in the west even the most “orthodox” among us still do not practice the faith in all its sacrificial fullness. There are those who are pursuing repentance and His fullness, but the vast majority are not even concerned about searching diligently the teachings of Christ. And the shepherds are made up of heretics, hirelings, compromisers, and some faithful shepherds who are striving to lead the cheep toward Christ but they themselves are struggling beneath the weight of the culture.

Perhaps the church resisted over a century ago, but in today’s debt ridden local religious organization most churches are content with paying the bills and growing in numbers. And as they grow they need more buildings, more staff, and larger salaries. Fasting and prayer are a diminutive part of evangelical life. Which church advertises “Come, we spend many weekly hours in prayer and fasting”. What kind of growth would that elicit? In fact, which church could even make that claim today? It is a sad and pitiful spectacle to see what has happened to God’s church. We live and act and speak and think like the world and we pretend to be concerned for the lost.

And gone is the mystery that ushers in awe and reverence and a tremendous sense of the Creator’s presence. A half hour of well practiced music must suffice. And if the congregation leaves feelings blessed, then the service was a success. What kind of religion is that? We minister to self and not to God. Do people come to the gathering with a commitment to minister to our God, or do they seek to be ministered to? The stale and predictable services replay each other every week. No one weeps for revival since few even see the need.

In 2005 I sat in the office of a man who was the pasture of a very large church. He had several staff members there as well. During the conversation I brought up the need for revival in the American church. I invited them to see a vision in which God’s Spirit was so moving that repentance was rampant. I asked if they could see the parking lot full of people streaming to get into the service, and so many were there without coercion that many hundreds could not even enter the auditorium and people began to fall on the ground in prayer. In fact, I said, it was so unusual that the secular news media was there to report on this phenomenon. I said, “Does that not create a holy thirst in your soul”? One of the associate pastors looked at me and said, “We are not set up for that.”

Can you imagine the spiritual ignorance that would elicit such a statement? Of course you are not set up for that, and that is exactly what revival is! When the Spirit of God so moves among the people that hearts begin to repent and that lost people are affected by what is happening to God’s people, and when that results in having things happen that you are not prepared for, well, that is the revival of the Spirit. A planned revival where a preacher comes for a couple of days and afterward things go back to normal is no revival at all. That is a religious meeting at best.

And so the mystery has all but disappeared. Slick advertisements and well oiled organizations have become the mainstay while prayer is little more than a token. Yes there are designated men and women to help with parking, ushering, baptisms, offerings, grounds, and almost every detail has been covered. But prayer is left to each individual; it is an elective. And worship is also a well planned event that is constricted by time. No longer do people meditate upon the mystery. No longer does just a mental vision of the Risen Christ affect our entire being. No longer do we fall before the vision of the cross in broken praise and worship.

After a long but steady decline, we now have great and swelling buildings that are equipped with some of the most sophistacted sound systems and climate adjusters and audio visuals. We have come a long way, baby. If it's mystery you long for, you have come to the wrong place. You can set you watch by us. And if you need us we will be either at work or play.


Anonymous said...

Amen, Brother. Humanism is predominant in the American church scene. I've been listening to A. W. Tozer and Paris Reidhead on SermonIndex, and daily reading Spurgeon. It's like an entirely different "religion" than what passes today for "christianity." And those first two ministers were from the 50's and 60's--not so long ago! I'm so convicted again about the shallowness and compromise of my own life. But it's hard when no one else around wants to make the plunge with you into biblical devotion again, and no one around to hold you to account. You are such a "weirdo" even to other church-goers, but to be intimate with the Lord again is wonderful and I remember what it was like when I was first born again in 1980.

It's difficult for me to know if I'm sinning by being critical and dissatisfied with what I find at churches, and I often feel ashamed of myself. I am always judging everything I hear, because I think it is what we are to do--like Bereans--but if you do that you usually find it falling short. That is why many of your readers, Rick, identify you as a real pastor.

So pray for me, brothers and sisters, to keep close to Him and His gentle loving heart, not criticizing while yet not compromising with the spirit of the age. Interceding and walking circumspectly.

Cherie c. said...

Great swelling buildings that are empty even when packed with people. Hollow in all aspects.

I truly believe that Revival is happening in the unwalled church. Those being called out is growing, and my fear is that they have lost all hope like I almost did. Our relationship with the Lord is a personal one, but His bride, the body of Christ is many members, we are not supposed to be left alone to wander into roaring lion territory.

The early church did not have big fancy buildings in which to meet. They met in each others homes. Now we see it happening again through the internet. We are able to meet in our homes using the internet. Not ideal as it removes some of the personal aspects of fellowship, but it is a blessing nonetheless.

That is a mystery too. How Christ's people are able to come together is a blessing. God always has a way for those who are His.

But we must act now! Due to spiritual deception we are not prepared. Not prepared to meet the Lord, but prepared for the persecution that is to come. It may or may not be in the form of physical persecution (yet), but in the form of restrictions on our ability to gather together and hear the True Word preached because it makes people doubt those who look to fill their empty buildings. That could cause them to lose revenue.

I do not promote discernment ministries because although I believe they have a calling, they forget to tell us to pray for these people, or to forgive them, intercede for them. They are so caught up with exposing false teachers, they forget why they are doing what they do.

But I have listened to some of the pod-casts of sermons they critique and it is frightening. The walled church knows about us and they seek to control any influence there is to reduce the number leaving them and truly seeking God. The stories are many, I had such a thing happen to me two, now three years ago.

Pastor, the mystery is still there. I stand in awe of God as I witness His Word come true before my eyes. To read His Word and be able to relate to what is happening today, I know, that I know, that I know, He is real, and yet still a mystery.

I have a long way to go in my walk, but I journey only with Him because I will fall for ever if He is not with me. When I do stumble, He is there somehow to pick me up. When I am disobedient, He corrects me much to my displeasure, but while it hurts I still feel His love. Now isn't that a mystery? No other love is like that! I cannot explain it. If I ever were to, God forbid, go back to the walled church I know that my focus on the mystery of God will be influenced in another direction. False teaching leads to less dollars for them when people actually read their Bibles, so they need to draw you away with, events, activities, life groups, musical productions, Sunday night suppers in the fellowship hall, demonizing those who seek the true God, not some made up version.

The mystery has surly disappeared from the walled church, but not from the unwalled church. I will be praying for Revival in the unwalled church. To God be the Glory, Honor, and Praise throughout the earth, forever and ever AMEN!

Cherie c.

Cherie c. said...

A section of verse 4 from Galatians 1:
according to the will of God and our Father:

Pastor Rick,

Please excuse me if I sound dumb, but I wonder about the part of this verse and others like it:

"will of God and our Father:"

I thought God is our Father? In my spirit I know this, but I cannot bring it to my understanding. Is it saying God as the God head then partitioning out the Father? Sorry if I sound stupid for asking, but I have always wondered about that. Your help is greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Cherie c.

AnonymousNoMore said...

How right you are about the perception of , “…what God can do for me…” for many have the understanding this life is about God wanting us to be happy and prayers are sent up as to a genie in a bottle. Then, when those wishes, uh prayers, are not answered as requested it is perceived as God is not faithful and many fall away saying, “….well, God just didn’t work for me…” so they turn elsewhere with a “been there, done that” mentality.

As you've written, it is the church itself that is contributing to the stifling revival from happening! Christians today have so absorbed the world to make it a part of them instead of being set apart in Christ. When standing with an unbeliever there is no difference in the two. Why would a lost person be drawn to today's Churchy Christian?? There is no light in them for Christ is not being seen, but rather the world is their idol and that is what non-believers see. We are to be the light in the darkness and this cannot be done if we are living as others live.

Fasting and prayer is something I have not heard preached or ever knew to be practiced until a member of my Sunday school class brought a book in and shared with us her personal experience. Why had I not ever heard or KNOWN anyone in my 40+ years of life to have fasted with prayed? How critical a gift the power of prayer and fasting is! "Why?" I cry, "Why are we being fed such lack-luster, bland, repetitive, dry teachings when JESUS is the feast of all feasts?!"

Discipleship is lost and so are many churches. We are taught head-knowledge of our Lord and God, but we are not taught how to KNOW our King and Father. Very dangerous for believing is not enough....even the demons believed. We must have a relationship with Christ and my heart pains for those whom Jesus will say, "depart I knew you not." So many are not being taught the truth and are not even aware of a deception....

Your message speaks to all of us, Pastor Rick.