Sunday, March 09, 2014

Are We of This World?


Rom.12: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Jn.17: 14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

The word “world” refers to the world’s systems and thought patterns. We are still physically in this world but we must not be of it. This does not refer to sinful habits like smoking or drinking or drug use. This is much more insidious. We as followers of Jesus should avoid the systems of this world and come out from among them and be separate. And just why is this important? Because when we are participating in the fallen world’s systems we cannot be following Jesus. And eventually the church itself falls prey to that compromise and becomes a moral and political lighthouse rather than a gospel witness.

Look at what Jesus prayed in verse 14 of John 17. This business about how we as believers see this fallen world is very serious business. No suppose for a moment that Jesus never intended His followers to get involved with politics. Suppose He never intended His followers to run for elected office. Suppose He never intended His followers to be in the military. Suppose He never intended His followers to be capitalists? Just for a moment suppose those statements to be true and contemplate the implications of those intentions from the Master. If indeed they are all true, then who is following Jesus today in America?

Let us go on. Suppose Jesus never intended His followers to complain about money. Suppose He never intended His followers to be entertained by that which is evil. Suppose He never intended His followers to create an entire music business. Suppose He never intended His followers to join hands with unbelievers. If indeed these are all true, and I suggest no one can even debate these, then who is following Jesus today in America? And in the light of all these statements, does it even matter anymore to church members if they are following Jesus anyway? How many actually take a month or a week or even a day and fast and pray and earnestly seek the face of Christ about these matters?

The western church structure is much like the Roman Catholic structure. Most church members like their pastor and will believe most of what he says. Most pastors are friendly and quite persuasive and somewhat gifted oratorically. And most local churches are designed to foster a feeling of community and they provide an array of activities. Their children’s ministry and youth ministry help to cement the loyalty of the family. It has become quite the sophisticated phenomenon. But how many churches actually address the statements I offered with sincerity and passion? And if we suppose that all the statements I offered are true then how many churches are following Jesus? This isn’t some philosophical musing. This goes to the very heart of what it means to believe in and follow Jesus. Do we not even think that is important anymore?

You see my brothers and sisters, suppose that the entire American church construct in practice and belief is not following Jesus at all? Yes by God’s grace some sinners come to Christ and yes by God’s grace most churches have some sort of a missions program, but suppose the essence of what the church believes and practices is not following Jesus? Those are hard words to even consider and many will reject them out of hand. Many will see them as hateful or self righteous and with that they feel comfortable in dismissing them altogether. But that would be a mistake. The evil one strives with great passion to keep people content in their present spiritual situation. What he fears most is when a believer truly begins to see Christ and place everything they thought they knew on the Spirit’s surgical table.

But just suppose that everything that has evolved into the western church mindset and practice is significantly in error and even though many people are redeemed children of God they are not following Jesus at all. And instead of following Jesus we have integrated religious substitutes. Instead of elongated season of prayer we send up a few sentences several times a week. Instead of fasting we don’t. Instead of being hungry for the Word we have our little devotional materials. Instead of being dramatically different than our neighbors we are very similar. Instead of partaking of the Lord’s Supper every week we have a schedule to observe it which includes a well organized system so that the “service” does not run too long. Instead of the church leadership being a humble collective we have our pastor who has a “salary package”.

I know, it sounds so fanatical and unrealistic and, yes, even critical. I know. And to be honest, it brings a little fear into people’s hearts. We love to be content and we resist change, especially change on such a great scale. To step back and truly seek God’s face in all these matters is a daunting task especially since most believers have never really experienced a spiritual passion which literally captures their present reality and drives them for weeks. In the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind people who came in contact with the alien ships were driven to seek a large mountain. They could not explain why but they could not stop either. They had an experience which changed them forever.

But that kind of experience is foreign to the average pew dweller. When we speak of fasting and praying in the morning and evening watches most professing believers are clueless. They have their lives, they have their jobs, they have their faith, they have their families, and they have their churches. Even the suggestion of a deep and sacrificial seeking of the Lord with everything on the table will get you labeled as a troublemaker. In fact, sadly, in most cases it soon become clear that if you are going to seek God with repentance and humility and openness you will have to do it without a church. That is a very painful journey.

At first it is a novelty to leave the church structure. At first your flesh desires you to feel self righteous and superior. But after the initial shock wears off you realize that any hint of self righteousness will keep you from Christ. And then there is a painful lack of former fellowship. This journey is not easy nor pleasant sometimes, but little by little the Spirit rains manna down to feed your soul. And then once in a while you receive a deeper glimpse into the Person of Christ. It comes on the heels of a deeper revelation of your own sin and helplessness. But you suddenly realize just how hollow all your doctrines are without a personal revelation of the Lord Jesus. That, my friends. Is manna indeed!

This post is meant to shake our faulty foundations. None of us are perfect, and just leaving a church structure is no basis for pride. But can you not see that a wrong structure and a wrong practice and a wrong system keeps us from following Jesus? We are to have some fellowship with lost sinners in a spirit of the gospel. We are to be law abiding people within this fallen culture. But we must view this culture and this government and this country as enemies of Christ and enemies of our spiritual walk. How can light and darkness become partners? But let all things be done in love which is another monumental task. And let us remain uncomfortably humble.

This quest, this journey of ours is not just a journey to find Jesus. It is in a real sense Jesus Himself. It is a glorious mystery which is easy diverted and misled by the things of this world. The depths of this journey are only limited by the depths of the Lord Jesus Himself. And the depths of Christ are infinite. So unravel the grave clothes and come forth from that tomb and walk in life, in resurrection life, or in other words walk in Jesus. There is no other life.

Or we can remain of this present world which will always be death.


Cherie c. said...

Are We of This World? We used to be.
But, it is hard for some to separate the two ideas of in the world not of it. How do I know? My husband. He says he believes, but denies the truth of the Gospel. Why, because he believes in what he thinks is right, what he thinks is important, what he wants the Word of God to be. He doesn't read the Word, but says he knows God. ??????, yes me too, but I love him anyway. Do I believe he is of the world, most certainly. But, so was I at one time. He is against gays, even though his brother is one, but does not flinch at the fact that there is a play on Broadway making Adultery romantic and something to desire. How twisted is that? He thinks his vote counts, and thought it just great to go to jury duty a few weeks ago. But he was in ministry in our old church. Yes, my apostate husband was in a service ministry at our old church and he didn't even have to be baptized, confess his sins, and repent. That is because our old church deemed you saved if you showed up and devoted your time to the church. He never heard the Word. One, because it was rarely if ever preached. The pastor was too busy becoming an evangelical superstar, or so he hopes. And, because as an usher in the church he spent his time at the front door, organizing the other ushers and feeling really proud about it, he was not able to be in the service. As I stood and watched this train wreck, the Lord was removing me from the scene. Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus, the world is in the church. Stay there and risk your very life. Stay there and you too may be corrupted and turn away from the Lord. I have seen it with my own eyes much to my deep dismay. The place we call church is not the Bride of Christ nor is it His church spoken of in Scripture.

Revelation 18:4
And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.

It is time my brothers and sisters. Gird up your loins;

1 Peter 1:13
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

Because we MUST remember:

2 Timothy 1:9
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

Praise God, Pray to God in the Name of His Son for the lost, both strangers and family, friends and those being deceived. We must remember the return of the Lord draws nigh. Will He find faith when He returns? Pray that the Lord finds us worthy to share in His sufferings as well as His Glory. We serve one of two masters, The Lord God, or satan. You see all of Jesus' prophesies are true, just look around you.

So, who is coming to Broadway to cry and be swept away with false sentiment and emotion as they watch the celebration of Adultery. And they complain about Gay people???

your sister in Christ Jesus

Cherie c. said...

Oh, by the way. The name of this new play is from the movie with Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood, The Bridges of Madison County.

It was a book first. And, hey, the world is getting excited here; the book 50 Shades of Gray is coming to the big screen too. Yes brothers and sisters, a book about fornication, adultery and other sexual exploits is coming to a theater near you.

And they complain about Gay people.

Adultery is fine as long as it is between a man and a woman, but homosexuality, well, that is not okay.

Does anyone not see the hypocrisy?

If it wasn't so sad, it would be almost funny.

Julie Wilton said...

I've read this blog four times today and the scripture keeps coming to mind, "Those who heard this asked, Who then can be saved? Jesus replied, "What is impossible with man is possible with God."

If we aren't praying and fasting and earnestly seeking Him then we will never be able to gladly sing, "the world behind me, the cross before me, no turning back, no turning back."

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Pastor Rick. Very revealing.

Bill Cotton said...


The Lord uses you mightily in bringing His Word as a sword to cut deeply into our comfortable Christianity. I must confess to all my brothers and sisters here on this blog that I and my family have a burning in our hearts much along what you have written. This world system only brings death and destruction to God's people but as you stated, we are too busy trying to prop it up as a beacon to lost souls. This is not the Gospel!!! We have become complacent and "Walking Dead" no different than the TV show that so many enjoy as entertainment (many so-called believers, I might add). I'm getting tired of all the childishness that comes within the walls of the church building. America's church is no different than Corinth except, They actually had gifts of the Spirit.
I apologize for rambling a bit, but I needed to vent some. Please forgive me and I pray that we all seek the face of the One True and Living God and glorify the King of kings, and Lord of lords, Jesus the Christ!
God Bless!
Brother Bill

Summer said...

This post should disturb all believers. For about the last year I've been looking for another church family because my eyes were opened to some of the bazaar practices of the church I had been attending. My heart hungers to fellowship with other true believers who want to grow in the Word and reach out to others who need Jesus but have not found that. All I've found is church services everywhere. I don't want to GO to church I want to BE the church. What a sad realization of how many people are satisfied with not going deeper. We are not going to be able to reach OUT to the world if we persist to be OF it. Thank you for your posts. Some are no doubt difficult to realize, but that is the nature of truth or it would cause no real change.

Cherie c said...

Hello Summer dear sister in Christ Jesus, welcome to the church. Not a building made with hands, but loving and sometimes difficult brothers and sisters who I have found to embody most if not all of what fellowship is supposed to be.

We correct each other out of love, I hope, and we lift each other up. I know since coming to this blog, my life has changed from being a member of a church to being a member of the Body of Christ. We have a wonderful Pastor, and he hates it when I say this, but he preaches truth and gets blasted sometimes, but you won't have someone from the walled church tell you you're a sinner, but Pastor Rick will not white wash the truth and the Holy Spirit really convicts through his posts. He is there for all of us and we really appreciate his work.
I pray for his continuation in the faith humbly and contrite, but to keep preaching.

Although this type of fellowship isn't exactly face to face, I find it comforting to chat with everyone. Do I wish we had a more face to face fellowship? Yes, perhaps someday soon.

Hey Church (brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus), say hello to Summer.

Has anyone heard from Kim lately and how she is doing? And I still don't know how Mrs. K is doing since our last email correspondence, she hasn't answered any of my current emails. Please keep both in your prayers.

Love to all my brothers and sisters in the Lord.