Monday, November 18, 2013

Man Draws people - God Draws Souls


II Cor.10: For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:
(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

II Tim.4:  I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

We live in a day when there is such an emphasis on numbers and excitement and large buildings and paying church debts that gradually made the church change the way it “operated”. It now operates like a business complete with debt management, slick advertisements, fund raising campaigns, celebrity personalities, exciting visuals, and all kinds of mechanisms designed to draw more and more people. It has been quite a phenomenon as the church has undergone an incredible metamorphosis in just several decades.

And to be honest what the church desired and the strategies it employed have been successful beyond its wildest dreams. Large and technologically advanced buildings have sprung up all across America and people by the tens of thousands stream into these wonderful edifices. And the Sunday morning services are a study in organization as to how to manage large crowds. There are well trained parking attendants, energized greeters, visitor specialists, effective and alert ushers, and just literally a well oiled machine designed to aid in the arrival and departure of large crowds. Some churches even have enlisted the paid help of secular companies in order to design a crowd management program that would best fit that church’s particular circumstance.

To the outside onlooker it would appear that the evangelical community is growing by leaps and bounds. And that would be accurate. But even while the evangelical community seems to be growing it does not mean the body of Christ is growing either numerically or in spiritual depth. Rock concerts draw a crowd. Sports events draw a crowd. Movies draw a crowd. Political rallies draw a crowd. Parades draw a crowd. Insurance conventions draw a crowd. Book signings draw a crowd. Yes, man can really draw crowds. And man can use all kinds of techniques to draw these crowds. There are time tested ways that can almost guarantee a large crowd.

And the church has learned well from the world. You can provide some kind of entertainment for children and you will have a crowd. Suggest that you can help with people’s marriage and you will draw a crowd. Advertise special speakers and you will draw a crowd. Have an Easter or Christmas pageant and you will draw a crowd. Have wonderful and high quality music and you will draw a crowd. Provide comfortable pews and effective air conditioning and make people feel important and you will draw a crowd. Get a building program going and make people feel like they are part of something and you will draw a crowd. Get ten smart people to sit in a church conference room and plan out different strategies on how to get a crowd and you will draw a crowd. Find out what people want to hear and tell it to them and you will draw a crowd. As I said, you need not reinvent the wheel because drawing a crowd has been and continues to be somewhat easy these days.

But that has never been how God draws sinners and believers to Himself. Never. Numbers not only do not equal believers but most times they present a false perspective. And unless there is a massive move of God which cannot be explained by human machinations, then drawing numbers reflects a flawed message and a system of manipulative strategies. But most sinners are not drawn to Christ when the message is presented with any kind of personal cost or sacrifice. That kind of message does not usually draw crowds.

But only the Holy Spirit can draw a sinner to Christ. God can use our lips and our prayers, but it is all the Spirit’s doing. And that is a miracle of redemption that occurs in the spirit realm and can only be seen by the effect it can have on a soul. We do a very great disservice to the ministry of the Spirit when we manipulate people. That does not mean we attempt to create some dead and dry atmosphere where there is no passion or no raising of the voice or no spiritual music. But it does mean that we must be very careful not to draw people by human means rather than being used of the Spirit as conduits while sincerely attempt to stay out His way and ministry.

You see, this is no game of ecclesiastical competition and who gets the most people wins some heavenly reward. The atmosphere that has been created in these last days is a despicable display of human engineering, human craftiness, human strategies, human manipulation, and human idolatry. And professing believers are content with going back and forth weekly to the same building to hear the same things only to return to their dwelling place in the very same spiritual condition as when they came. You see, we have been lulled to sleep via the power of our own lusts that seek just enough religion to satisfy our religious conscience but surely not enough to cause any painful sacrifice in our imprisoned cultural existence.

And what is most pitiful and disgusting about the entire evangelical spectacle is how Jesus, the person and the Savior, has been so marginalized so that He no longer is the August Lord but He is now the earthly fixer, the American supporter, and the moral political figure. And He seems to exist in our minds to do our bidding and help us achieve whatever earthly success we desire. Even if we ignore the horrific scene of preachers driving Rolls Royce’s and telling the gullible people how they can give to get rich, even if we just count that as so absurd that it is spiritual insanity, we still must see the current ecclesiastical construct and message as an atrocious deviation from historical Christianity to say nothing of the teachings of the New Testament.

When a church grows numerically the offerings increase as well. And then the staff increases and the pastor’s salary increases incrementally. So with that template in mind, do you not see the overt conflict of interest in all of it? And which pastor leaves his large church to go to a smaller church with a smaller salary package? It is almost always un upward transition. And the new church calls a new pastor based in large part on his oratorical prowess and the growth his present church has experienced. And when a pulpit committee goes to hear and interview a preacher and are convinced he is the one, then he is asked to preach for their church “in view of a call”. And after hearing him preach once or twice, and after providing him with the details about the salary package, the members vote. Think about that. The church adopts the political culture in which they live and votes!

All members can vote. That means whether they come every service or once every two months. If they never read their Bible and if they never pray they can vote. If the look at pornography and if they are currently having an extra marital affair they can vote. And where in the New Testament does it say that the church is a democracy? And if it does not then where did the church get such a notion? They copied it from the fallen culture and the kingdom of darkness. Now I want you to think about that for a moment. The overwhelming majority of local church shepherds are called by a pagan method. Does that not shake your being when you think of all the implications of such a construct?

But since we have long since discarded the ministry of the Holy Spirit because we have by and large discarded the life blood of prayer, then we must resort to pagan practices and methods to build the local church. By God’s grace He still calls sinners even through some of these churches, however the evangelical community is literally filled with unconverted church members. And the churches continue to draw people, and quickly getting them saved, baptizing them which makes them a church member, and then we go on to the next throng of noses. And the unbelievable sacrilege is that the church kills two birds with one stone. The sacred act of identification and obedience called baptism serves as the doorway to church membership simultaneously as it portrays a sinners identity with Christ. That my friends must be a great affront to our Holy God.
And even though church membership is unbiblical you might think that a new convert or even someone new to the community would have to wait at least one year before they would be allowed to join. But the membership process is usually speedy. Why? Because the pastor knows that the feeling of belonging to something is a strong influence on someone and causes them to stay where they believe they have a home. Membership itself is a technique to control and so the quicker the better. And once again the congregation votes on "receiving" new members who are rewarded with a new box of tithing envelopes. The numbers have increased.

The entire construct perpetuates a fallen system and now blends in nicely with a fallen culture. The evangelical masses align themselves with conservative causes and for the most part vigorously support Republican candidates who use Christianity as a vehicle for garnering votes. We are known as the religious right and not humble followers of Jesus whose concern is the souls of men and not their votes. Churches pass out voter’s information fliers during election seasons and people sit right in the place where they are supposed to come to worship the Risen Christ and they read what they already know. The Hebrew children worshiping the golden calf had nothing on us.

We have the written and complete revelation of God’s Word, and we have the gospel message. We have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and we have the life and teachings of Jesus at our very fingertips. And yet we still need to be involved with the machinations of fallen man and all his carnal weapons employed to achieve his fallen goals. Think about this: What if tomorrow abortion was illegal and strictly enforced. And what if there was not one gay person living in America. And what if all the liberals turned into members of the Tea Party. What does that change? All it would do is make us feel more comfortable and at ease in our present cultural situation. But it would not change one sinner’s eternal plight. But please understand that the church would rather have the culture become more moral than see sinners saved. You see we already have eternal life, but now we want heaven on earth as well.

And so the church will continue to draw men while the Spirit will continue to draw souls. And the difference between the two is the difference between heaven and hell. And I can hear these hollow words being spoken many, many times each Sunday,

How was church this morning?”

“”It was great!”

Perhaps it was really great. But sadly many times God was not there.


Shannon said...

Thinking of those things that are
done in our flesh will not pass through the fire but will be burned up and those things done by The Lord will pass through the fire.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15
For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

I am reminded of Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu, Leviticus 10:1,2. The best of intentions was sin before the Lord God.
Again, in 2 Samuel 6:7, we note that Uzzah's good intentions got him killed.

Even now as you stated that many are interested in numbers, as great numbers are a means of success but in all actuality it is the few that are on the narrow path that have received the faith of Him.
Matthew 7:13,14 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Annette said...

"Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. And He said to
those who sold the doves, "Take these things away! Do not make My Father's house a house of merchandise! Then the disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up." So the Jews answered and said to Him, "What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?"

"Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."

"Then the Jews said,"It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?"

"But He was speaking of the temple of His body."

"Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said to them."

John 2:13-22

Annette said...

LORD Jesus Christ, I humbly Praise You and Thank-YOU for....

The Priviledge of the Watch

Driving the roads less traveled by most can often lend itself to the Testimony of our LORD Jesus Christ in miraculous ways. This particular journey led us on cracked highways through an Indian Reservation, where Tribal Governments rule within the constructs of our national government. We travel curiously and cautiously, appreciating the signts and minding our own business, with no stops allowed.

However, on this particular trip, there was an urgent need to stop at the local gas station, much to the wariness of the displeased driver. As we sat and waited, I noticed a man leaning against the backdrop of the convenience store, his long black hair in two braids wearing a farmer's cap. His jeans were faded and the plaid flannel insulated jacket kept him warm in the coolness of the morning. It was a busy station, bustling with activity.

I asked myself, "Why is this man just standing there?" I could only make assumptions concerning his problems of living as he was a stranger to me. Was he hung over from Saturday eve's festivities, was he thrown out of his home, did he even have a home, where did this man come from?

As people passed by him, he begged for either food or money.
He seemed polite, not offensive nor obtrusive as some, but a beggar none-the-less.

"A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink." For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman? For the Jews have no dealings with Samaritans."
John 4:7-9


michael said...

Well I remember a national revival of sorts by frequenting the Philippines starting in 1979. The emotional experiences I witnessed makes me see more clearly why this "vote" phenomenon exists. I also saw this same emotional experience with the nation of Albania.

Both countries lived under repressive regimes. One was under President Marcos and the other under President Aliya. I visited President Aliya at his "oval" office in Tirana. I never met President Marcos but crossed paths with his wife later after his death. The Philippines was more a democratic dictatorship while Albania was communist in repression. Both had a sudden "experience" of freedom allowing both country's people to be free thinking peoples free to pursue economic and social endeavors or whatever they wanted. Both countries stalled the first years of freedom and it looked like people were not going to make the transition from dictatorship head tyrant rule to a choice and vote so you could have who you want to rule rule! You could sense some emotional instability as these two peoples learned how to live in a free open society without having the fear of a regime looking over your shoulders treating you harshly for violating the government's rules. It was an amazing thing to experience as these countries moved forward into becoming as other free democratic countries now looking to the "Western" mindset for help to establish a free based market economy.

Did people become happy and content with life now that freedom and democracy began to change their collective national life? NO!

Religions stayed the same just more freedom to openly practice them. But there was and still is a spiritual warfare in these two nations. Crime continues and rebellion against God and His authority as well as against the institutions of government. There has been a growth in policing to deal with crimes against humanity. Courts and judges have increased across the countries. The bureaucracy is just different.

What's left if neither a communist state or a free state cannot change hearts and minds toward God? GOD!


michael said...

Here's a couple perspectives on that score. One from the newly freed peoples, the twelve tribes of Israel and the other the New nuanced approach of people finding a firm foundation brought about by the same GOD.

The "Old" way:

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that is in it. Yet the Lord set his heart in love on your fathers and chose their offspring after them, you above all peoples, as you are this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear. He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen. Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven. (Deuteronomy 10:12-22 ESV)

The "New" way:

Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Philippians 3:17-21 ESV)


But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:6-13 ESV)

While we see this ugly side of the Church in the United States and in other countries I'm still a firm believer God still is in control and His plan for the redemption of His people is in full swing!

Let us focus our eyes on Jesus trusting Him and the power He has to subject all things to Himself as He by the sanctification work of the Holy Spirit continues to draw people to the Kingdom through the preaching of the Gospel!

Annette said...

I apologize for the time delay, there were a few chores to do. Please allow the continuation, if you may...

"Jesus said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water." John 4:10

Most often, when we encounter the beggar amongst us, whether on the Las Vegas strip, or in an obscure prairie town where you can see the picturesque landscape for seemingly hundreds of miles, we simply ignore their living existance. The Samaritans among us are still present in this day and age.

As the people walked past this man, none acknowleged his living presence; not a glance, nor a simple "Hello." He was non-existant to the average genetically engineered human.


Annette said...

"The woman said to Him (Jesus),
"Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship."
"Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. "You worship what you do not know, we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippiers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him." John 4:19-24

Then, the LORD willing, I had the privilege of watching the witness of the Holy Spirit testifying to the Glory of our Savior Jesus Christ.

I watched a women, get out of her vehicle and walk up to this native man and hand him a baggie of sandwiches. As his eyes softened, he spoke a soft "thank-you." Then in her other hand,


Annette said...

she held a tatered Bible. It looked as though it was a personal Bible as it still had papers and neon colored bookmarks sticking out from its pages. As my eyes filled with glorious tears, I watched this woman share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with this beggar, this man, looking at him as if his very soul was of precious value to our Living God.

She did not just give him food for the stomach, she gave the beggar, this Samaritan, the very "Bread of Life."

"Then Jesus said to them (the people), "Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you bread from heaven, but My Father gives you true bread from heaven.
"For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." Then they said to Him, "Lord, give us this bread always." And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst." John 6:32-35

This stranger, in one brief encounter in time, freely gave this beggar bread for the flesh in one hand, and the Bread of Life, God's Living Word for his spirit, in her other hand. Still watching, I saw this man raise his hand high in the air clutching his new worn Bible, waving a good-bye with empathy in his eyes.

To this day, this exchange still moves me to tears of joy in the Spirit.


Annette said...

"For we are God's fellow workers, you are God's field, you are God's building." I Corinthians 3:9

"Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are." I Corinthians 6:19-20

"Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and evil speaking, as newborn babies, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but chosen by God as precious, and you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 2:1-5

And for today, and every day of this earthly life, my heart is exceedingly grateful that God, the Holy Spirit, is still moving and drawing people unto Himself, sometimes using unknown people to plant a seed in His field until that final harvest takes place, of which time we do not know.

Grateful for another post in which the iron can be sharpened, Pastor Rick.

Praise God from whom all Blessings flow. In Jesus' precious Name.

Anonymous said...

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Clearly God is still putting his laws into our minds and writing them on our hearts!



Anonymous said...

Isaiah 55:8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD.
:9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

One of my grandpa’s who worked for United States Steel as a Structural Engineer told me about one job that he worked on. As the Mackinac Bridge in Northern Michigan was being built there was a problem because on one day a piece that had been trucked to the job site from the steel mill was turned upside down. The foreman at the job site told the steel workers to cut new holes in this piece to make it fit. The problem with this is the steel beam was forged especially for the position it was to be installed with the holes made in the correct places to be riveted to the whole. This piece was ruined, it could not be used and had to be sent back to the mill. That foreman was fired and replaced because on that beam there were arrows and numbers drawn telling the steel workers how and where to place it.

Why is it, then, that God has given us instructions on what to do, what to say and what to pray, that man thinks he can do things differently? I think about the statement Rick put in one of his posts of what a Chinese minister said, “It is truly amazing what the churches in America can accomplish without God!” The only thing they are accomplishing is bringing recognition to themselves. I do not need to list any scripture as to what we all know what God’s thinks about that!

2Timothy 4:2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.

If the blueprint that was laid out, in the Bible since the foundation of the world, had been followed without question, things might be slightly different today.


Anonymous said...

Great comments and verses and teaching. Thank you everyone.