Sunday, April 28, 2013

Without the Apocalypse There is Only Apostasy


Col.1: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Rev.1: The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

If you were forced to describe the contents of all the 66 books of the Bible in only two words those two words would most certainly be: Jesus Christ. In open narratives and revelations, and in metaphors and types and shadows, and in examples of animals and humans, and in obscure ways and obvious ways, and in many, many other ways the Scriptures fit perfectly together to form a patchwork quilt that when held up against the light of the Spirit says Jesus Christ. It is He who is the center of the divine narrative both before and after the creation of the material universe.

Even the Book of the Revelation is looked upon as a futuristic voyage and so it is, however the book itself says it is the revelation of Jesus Christ. So what that tells us that with all the bowls and vials and trumpets and beasts and even churches, the Book of the revelation is centered upon the apocalypse of the Risen and Victorious Christ. The word “apocalypse” is the transliteration of a Greek word that means simply, the open and unmistakable revealing. I asked a Greek man to explain it to me and he shoved his hand inside his pants pocket, grabbed hold of his car keys, and brought them out of his pocket and opened his hand and showed his keys to me in the open palm of his hand. That, he said, is apocalypse.

And it is quite impossible to aptly and completely communicate just how august and core Jesus is to everything. Jn.1: 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. Yes, He made everything that is. Everything. And Paul tells us that all things consist by Him as well which means if He were to remove His power and presence from the universe it would immediately collapse under its own fallen weight. The third Person of the Godhead who has taken upon Himself the name of Jesus is not only an image of the invisible God, but He is God.

We have often heard these words: Jesus was God in the flesh. And many times we have used those words to prove our orthodoxy and disparage heretics. Fair enough. But let us return to those words and investigate the sacred essence and profound depth that those six words actually reveal. What do we mean when we say “God”? That seems so elementary and yet we rarely even give it much thought. It is such a generic term which is used by wicked and corrupt men as a sort of a talisman but in reality is hollow. We say “God bless you” when someone sneezes and people say “Oh God” when they are afraid or startled. We sing “God bless America” which treats God like a blessing machine which reacts to our worthless words. Yes, the word God itself has become a colloquialism stripped of its august meaning.

The word “god” came from a Saxon word meaning good. In essence it has no deity in it but over the years we have adopted it to mean almost anything. But there is only one deity and all the rest are fables and superstitions and even demonic. But God, Elohim and Theos, is THE one and only deity. He is eternal and was not created but He created everything. In the Old Testament many times the scribes as they were copying the Hebrew texts and after they wrote the name of God they would destroy the pen and some would even wash themselves just because they so revered the name of God. But even the church throws around the word God as if it meant very little. Even the heathen use the term feely and without any thought.

But God, not the word but the Deity, is beyond what we could ever imagine. So when you consider all this as not only the central element of Christianity, but Christianity itself, then you must see how the western church has so decimated the faith that it can no longer be considered Christian. Not only has the church decentralized Jesus, but it has relegated Him to back burner status. Oh yes His name appears on some innocuous statement of faith, and His name is sometimes mentioned in passing, but He is not the controlling object of our walk, our faith, and our worship. He has become an embarrassing talisman whose reason for being is aiding humans to different levels of success in this life. And even some false sects of Christianity openly teach that Jesus will help you only after receiving some form of monetary gratuity.

And what I have just described is called apostasy. The word apostasy is a transliteration form the Greek word which means to reject, fall away from, or defect from. And that clearly defines the modern church as it flows down a path of self elevation and the open pursuit of wealth and all the accoutrements in this life. The Christian men and women of God in years gone by would be considered off balanced and completely out of touch with reality. They would be religious extremists. And those saints of old would have a difficult time finding a local fellowship that they would consider a New Testament church.

You see the word “Christian” was almost a pejorative that was hurled at early believers. It was meant to convey the idea that these people reminded the culture of the one called Christ Jesus. That word has now been emasculated into little more than one of the great religions of the world. Do we really remind others of Jesus, or do we remind them of moral conservatism or American exceptionalism? In fact evangelicals have lost the very image of what it means to follow and imitate Jesus. The Jesus that is heralded in mainstream evangelicalism is not the Jesus of the gospels. His name is the same, but this Jesus walks and talks and acts differently than the One Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote about. Anyone born after 1950 has grown up into a religious system generally referred to as Christianity which has presented an American Jesus with all sorts of cultural disfigurements. This Jesus has been made to bend to our culture and to our lusts.

Do you believe that is too strong? I challenge you to read the New Testament through in one month with passion, patience, and intensity. Go ahead and fast sometimes as well and then tell me if what you have read mirrors what is being diffused in the community of faith. Wealthy ministers, gatherings which specialize in entertainment, large debt ridden buildings, millionaire singers, preacher idolatry, a focus on the temporal, and the unremarkable practice of faith within a culture of darkness are just a general description of how Jesus Himself has been drowned in a sea of hedonism sprinkled lightly with His name. Sacrifice? Self denial? Separation? Holiness? Prayer? Brokenness? An insatiable desire to know and follow Jesus? Shame on us if we would even attempt to defend ourselves.

But where there is no passionate apocalypse of the Lord Jesus Christ, then there is apostasy. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith so how can we continue to minimize Him among the community of faith? He is our High Priest and the Lamb which takes away the sins of the world. Missionaries all over the world are preaching His gospel, while the west fishes in worthless holes of self indulgence and cultural adjustment. The apostasy has set in but the wheat is not yet in the barn. The church slumbers and dances at the same time to the alluring melodies of these modern sirens. But cast off the words of men and remember the words of God.

Col.1: 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.


Lorena said...

Thank you for this Rick. God gives the increase but He still commands His Gospel be preached. Thanks to, and praise God that you are doing that. Seemingly, so few really are, but preach from their own human reasoning and ideas.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great reminder Pastor Rick - if only we would turn our thoughts to who God is, who Jesus really is, instead of just focusing on our own petty, self serving agenda.

Annette said...

This made me cry and "feel" my unworthiness in the Light of all Eternity, our LORD Jesus Christ. God, our Father, recently delivered me out of a church system who worshipped the god of themselves. When a religious system praises the so called hyper spiritual amongst themselves, and "works" hard to appear holy, then you will know that Jesus left their form of religion a long time ago.

"Wherefore art thou glory?" Is not the dirt underneath the hangnail in the body of Christ equally as worthy as the mouthpiece?

LORD, be thou as it may, have mercy upon us.