THE APOCALYPSE

ChristIsTheMystery“The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Rev. 1:1).   

The first word you cannot help noticing is revelation. The word revelation is the word apocalypse which has become identified with catastrophe, destruction and the end of the world. But that is not the meaning of the word revelation AT ALL.

To reveal means something like pulling back the curtains on a stage or opening a door and finding what is inside a room. It is discovering a secret. It is like solving a mystery. It is like finding treasure.

We are talking about God’s secret.

What is God’s big secret?

CHRIST.

Jesus our Lord was and is God’s secret, His mystery hidden for many ages and generations now revealed to us in the scriptures.

The gospel pulls back the great curtains on the stage of heaven and brings out into the open, JESUS.

So the question all the time has been, “Who is this?” (Matt. 21:10) has been answered. It is not some secret philosophy or the product of some wild imagination. It is Christ, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” (Col. 2:2-3NASB). 

Though the second person of the Trinity, the Word, Christ, the eternal Son existed before time began with the Father He was not always seen, he was not always known (Romans 16:25-26). God the Son, seen as the Word became a human being (John 1:14). Now Christ lives in us (Col 1:27). He is the wisdom and power of God in person (1 Cor 1:24). 

God wants us to know who he is. So he gave us Jesus.  The Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.

Jesus is Lord over Life and Death. He rules over Dawn and Dusk. Christ is the A to Z, the Start and the Finish, the Center and Circumference with absolute command over all time past, present and future. The angels spill out their worship of Christ their King and demons tremble in horror at the Lord Jesus Christ!

 

© 2014 Soul Health Care Ministries-if you use this material give credit where credit is due.

The Struggle with the Godhood of God

The scriptures are very clear about the Godhood of God. The Bible says,

“That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.” (Isaiah 45:6).

All emotional reactions and experiences aside, He alone is God.  The very original and conventional sin of man is pride. It is self idolatry. Pride deifies man and makes him in control of his destiny and life. We are not only uncomfortable with the fact with the freedom of God’s power and “he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased. ” (Ps 115:3) but we have an aversion to it.  He makes choices, he decides what is best and for us because he is God and whether we like it or not it is done. God is relentless and unstoppable. When it comes to salvation, God who is mighty to save them who are, “predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” (Eph. 1:11).

Saying, I don’t believe something does not make that truth go away.  Being inept at explaining that truth does not make it wrong and being a Christian and still struggling with that truth does not you a bad Christian.

My issue is that Pastors and preachers feel God has called them to be a spiritual public relations person for Christ. It is despicable reinterpreting God in terms, “He meant to say this…” or, “When he did this he actually was…” We are called to be spokesmen for God, to say all he has commanded, not to decode the scripture into oblivion.

With all the talk about trusting God I really think we are suspicious of him. It seems his freedom to do things with which we do not agree with is intact.  I know I still struggle with my own uncertainties.  If I did not struggle, I would doubt my own salvation. For struggle is the very essence of spiritual life.

The Bible is clear, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30).

It is pretty scary predestination and all. It is at first terrifying and then comforting.  

Should all truth make us comfortable?

That is a joke.

Is that true faith? 

For people who decry lying, we sure hate honesty, yet honesty has a way keeping both feet on terra firma.

Perhaps faith is when you grapple with some truth and are afraid of it-is that not faith as well?  This is not a rationalization of being double minded and half hearted. It it about being able to explain genuine faith or explaining in terms of embracing the belief in one God who predestines all things.

Does the ability to explain or lack thereof effect your faith? I struggle everyday with trust in GOD’s plans and purposes for my own life. The calm assurance that I have at times is much more precious than trillions of bailout dollars.

 The logical conclusion to predestination is a strange mix and fear and confidence. But the Godhood of God is a fact. One may speculate and struggle with it but in the end when we see he has done all things well,  we submit in surrender to him.

More Loving Than God?

I have shared with some of you, that I believe there are some people who think they love others more than God does. They see themselves as generous, hospitable and kind. They bristle at people whom they see as harsh and straightforward with scripture. To them that is so unloving.
 
Now of course they would never say that but I would like to test their approach. Scripture says this:
 
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, and it is not proud. Love is not rude, is not selfish, and does not get upset with others. Love does not count up wrongs that have been done. Love takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices over the truth.  Love patiently accepts all things. It always trusts, always hopes, and always endures. Love never ends.” (1 Cor 13:4-8NCV).
 
These wonderful virtues are in list form and if you see yourself as placing a check to any or all of these-there is one word that buries all of us and should bring us to our knees in a realization of failure:
 
Always.
 

Christ Will Catch You

 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” (Matt. 13:47-50)

Manual labor was how most people survived in Bible days. Fisherman, farmers, shepherds, potters and carpenters are all used as illustrations of God’s Kingdom and how he worked in human lives. Farmers grew things, shepherds guarded things, potters made things and carpenters built things. The analogy Christ gave to his first followers in this parable included nets, fish and fisherman. His very first followers were fisherman and they were in the business of catching things.  

 We see that fisherman used a large net with weights on it or a dragnet to catch fish. Jesus teaches that the kingdom of heaven, the Sovereignty of God, his rule and reign over the earth and the hearts of men is like a dragnet. It is the preaching of the biblical gospel that catches people, like fisherman use a dragnet to catch fish (Luke 5:10).

The dragnet draws them in from the sea. The sea is symbolic of the world and its people, “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.” (Isa. 57:20). Like the world it is restless and unstable but God Almighty is an excellent fisherman (Ezek. 32:2-3). Christ is the Creator of life in the seas, oceans, lakes and rivers. He was the one who at Creation, said, “Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life.” (Gen. 1:20). So he who made the fish knows where they hide.

They collect every kind of fish: there all kinds of people the gospel dragnet catches. The Bible says God makes, “men as the fish of the sea…” (Hab. 1:14NIV). They come from every ethnic group, nation and tongue. Some are famous people, others unknown people, some rich, some poor. Christ catches all kinds of people. 

Once the dragnet is full they bring it to shore and sit down. One day fishing will be over. There will be no more need for gospel preaching, “And then shall the end come.” (Mt 24:14). The end of this “present evil age” (Gal. 1:4) will come and give way to the fullness of the kingdom age (Rev. 21: 4). For now the kingdom of God has come in this age but not in fullness (Heb 6:5). The kingdom of God has invaded and defeated the kingdom of Satan (Mt. 12:28) but Satan and death the last enemy are still around doing their dirty work.  So for now we have the righteous and the wicked side by side.

Then the fisherman shall sit down and separate the good fish from the bad. This involves the ministry of the holy angels who are appointed the task of separating the good fish from the bad or the righteous from the wicked, “and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.” (Mk. 13:27).

When the kingdom of God arrives, the wicked and the righteous will be separated like weeds and wheat, sheep and goats and good and bad fish. Those who are disobedient to the gospel call and refuse to turn from their sin will be sent to hell and those whom he saves will be allowed access into heaven. We need to be careful to mention all have sinned (Rom. 3:23) and we all are pretty bad fish. The “good fish” Christ catches for salvation in his mercy and grace but they are not good in themselves. But not everyone will be saved. He keeps the living “fish” (those who have been born again) and the dead fish (those who are not born again) are thrown away in condemnation.

This message of the dragnet of the gospel has bad news and good news. We can see in this great dragnet of God’s kingdom His, “goodness and severity.” (Rom. 11:22). One day everyone will be caught and there is no where you can run from God. The Bible asks, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation.” (Heb. 2:3). Those who are saved are drawn out from the drowning waters of God’s judgment (Ps. 18:16). But the wicked will be burned in a furnace of fire (Mt. 13:42, 50). This is a constant theme in scripture where God differentiates between those who serve God and those who do not (Mt. 13:30, 41-42).  

You see Jesus was not our idea of a Savior and as sinners we have a twisted way of thinking completely remote from God ways and thoughts.  In building God’s kingdom, God the Father determined that Jesus was be the cornerstone and foundation of the church. The religious people were clueless. So Christ said to them, “Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.’ He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.” (Mt 21:42-24NLT). The cornerstone is a stumbling stone for many people, but the idea of Jesus Christ being a savior scandalizes and outrages people. But Christ will catch you. He will catch you as a Savior or he will catch you as your Judge.

I find it interesting that fisherman back then used a dragnet. According to the dictionary a dragnet is also, “a systematic and coordinated search for a wanted person made by police.”  (Encarta).  God is on a manhunt or soul hunt for those who have broken his law! This is a warning to those who think they can wait around and follow Christ whenever they want or whenever they are ready. It does not work that way (Isa. 55:1,-3, 6-7).  Augustine said, “God has promised forgiveness to your repentance but not time to your procrastination.  All will be caught in an inescapable net one day. You will be entangled in this net, if you are not already. God will act in his justice and he will catch up with those running from it,  “Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so men are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.” (Eccl. 9:12).

The bad news first: Judas was caught in the dragnet of Christ, but for condemnation. It is so very sad. What a trophy Satan has on hell’s wall in capturing Judas. Here Judas was a disciple he performed miracles and preached the gospel. “He called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out evil spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.” (Mt 10:1NIV) and yet he would be the one who would betray Christ (Mt. 10:4).  

That is why Jesus said don’t rejoice in performing miracles but rejoice that “your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20).  The Bible says that the devil put that idea of betraying Christ in his heart (John 13: 2) and entered into him (Luke 22:3) and Christ called him a devil (John 6:70) despite the fact he chose him for service. All Judas thought about was a convenient (Mk 14:11) opportunity (Mt. 26:16) to betray Christ to those who would eventually crucify him. Jesus treated Judas as the guest of honor at the last supper and washed his feet knowing what he was going to do. But Judas eventually committed suicide and after his neck broke, his body fell and cracked open and his intestines gushed out (Acts 1:18).  How did such a sad fish get in the net?  

You see, in the dragnet of the Kingdom of God there are good and bad fish. In theology, we call it the visible and invisible church. Simply put, the visible church has saved and unsaved people. It has real believers and hypocrites. There is the church we see and people who seem to be Christians and there is the church God sees and those he knows belong to him. They all coexist for a time and then God sifts them. A heart unchanged by the Spirit of God will not choose to serve God. Sin rules their heart. They can mask their true condition by religiosity, morality, generosity, and civility but they are still sinners.

They are slaves to sin and in their hearts they have a hatred for God and all his laws (Rom 8:7). But it is not so obvious. Yes, they can imitate things, they can play the role of religion but one day they will be exposed as frauds. “Remember, the sins of some people are obvious, leading them to certain judgment. But there are others whose sins will not be revealed until later.” (1 Tim. 5:24NLT).  The more they are around miracles, even solid preaching of the word of God instead of becoming softer they become harder. The Bible says, “When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.” (Heb. 6:7-8NLT). The Spirit of God asks, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Rom. 2:4-5). 

Peter was caught in the net of Christ for salvation. When the disciples went fishing at the Word of Christ, their nets broke under the weight of the miraculous catch and the boats began to sink (Luke 5:2, 7).  Peter was terrified. He said, “Depart from me for I am a sinful man oh Lord!”  (Luke 5:8). But Peter was hooked he could not shake the dragnet of grace that now rest upon him. Seeing the sin in his life he knew he needed to change his ways as the very presence of Christ came as light that illuminated the darkest parts of his soul in one moment. He was afraid, because he was exposed, for he was tangled in the nets of Christ and was at his mercy.

There was a terrible storm one time and Christ came walking on the water, Peter stepped out of the boat to walk on the water with Christ, but he could not for long stay in that position. As he began to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Mt. 14:30).   I know Peter walked on the water for a time, I have heard this passage preached on, some good ones and others mangled out of context.  But here is the actual point:  Christ is Peter’s only hope and Savior.  We too must see the boisterous winds and powerful surging waves of Divine justice!  We must see our souls sinking down and look to Christ’s sinewy arm to reach in the waters and rescue us from drowning. His work, his will, his human powers of soul and spirit could not save him! He needed to be saved from and outside source and only Christ would and could save him!  What a difference when he first met Heaven’s Fisherman and said, “Lord, leave me!  Now he says, “Lord save me!”  

Before the crucifixion there were three main targets that Satan was after, Christ, Judas and Peter. He had a foothold situation in Judas. He was done. Satan had literally requested to sift Peter. Peter was in the dragnet, but was he to be a good fish? He was going to deny the Lord which is almost just as bad as or worse than betraying Christ. But Jesus told him,But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32NLT).  Peter belonged to Christ by grace and despite all his failings; Christ assured him that he would be converted and able to strengthen his brothers. That day came and Peter’s greatest catch was on the Day of Pentecost when three thousand souls were added by grace to the church (Acts 2:42). Once caught by Christ he taught them that they too would be those would cast their nets for souls. Christ made it clear: they would catch men (Luke 5:10), therefore, the nets of their testimony must rest in his strength.  For the spirit of prophecy and all preaching must be and can only be the testimony of Jesus or it is not biblical and God honoring (Rev 19:10).   He that wins souls is wise (Prov. 11:30) but only Christ is powerful to save (Acts 4:12)!   To fish for them is to simply cast the net of God’s Word and let the Spirit of God do the work in the ocean of the world.  

Oh this dragnet can also be salvation to those people who God is calling in his grace. Christ is the Ultimate Fisherman who catches the drowning souls of men. Each and every day God is drawing those whom he has loved before the foundations of the earth were made “a people yet born, the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD! (Ps 102:18). The Bible teaches that the Father never fails to bring people to Christ who he is drawing. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me…No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him…” (John 6:37, 44).  He is saying now, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jer. 31:3). Your salvation cannot rest on anything but Christ alone and his power to save! This awesome Fisherman of Heaven has set out to catch you. In fact, you are as good as caught right now. Christ came and called men to follow him (Mt. 4:19) and they were caught in his dragnet of grace. You can struggle Mr. and Ms. Fish but once the dragnet is over you, you are at subject to the discrimination of the Master. Don’t be caught dead without Jesus. Because one day Christ will catch you!

THE SALVATION UNDERGROUND GONE PUBLIC!

“But those who die in the Lord will live; their bodies will rise again! Those who sleep in the earth will rise up and sing for joy! For your life-giving light will fall like dew on your people in the place of the dead!” (Isaiah 26:19NLT).

On Oct 13, 2010 the whole world watched in awe as 33 Chilean miners that were trapped two thousand feet below the earth were lifted to safety by what many call a miraculous rescue. They spent 69 days (a much shorter timespan than predicted) underground but just a few days ago they took a 15 minute journey upwards to the surface in a small capsule that was no wider than an average man’s shoulders. There was a lot of joy, men thanking God and family reunions. In a time of really bad news in the world, I think this was a real boost to the global morale of  the millions of people who watched the rescue updates on television. I posted on Facebook, “EVEN NOW MEN ARE COMING UP OUT OF THE GROUND!

I read in one article, “They were trapped underground, in a place like hell itself — claustrophobic, dark, fetid — and they come up like they were resurrected,” says Robert Thompson, a professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University. “Western civilization doesn’t come up with stories much better.” 

Salvation in the Bible is often compared to being brought out of  a pit, “He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.” (Ps. 40:2). I CALL THIS THE SALVATION UNDERGROUND GONE PUBLIC. He brings people up from out of the ground of death and distress into new life. The idea of  salvation, the resurrection of the body, heaven and eternal hell are biblical  concepts of the Christian faith.  Problems of many kinds were illustrated often as a pit into which people fell and were trapped. A pit also symbolized unsolvable problems and desperation  from which only God could save you.  A pit was a place where unless you received outside help you would die. 

God is the wonderful Savior of all men (1 Tim 4:10). It is because of Who He is that He delights to rescue his own people (Ps. 18:19) and he  even shows kindness to the most miserable, unthankful characters (Luke 6:35). No one is like God who still loves doing awesome wonders (Ex. 15:11). he brings men and women up out of the ground all the time. But we should note that here are two kinds of salvation: one is temporary and the other eternal. Sometimes in the scripture physical salvation illustrates and symbolizes eternal salvation. One is the saving of the body, the other is the saving of the soul.  Your body can be saved, but that does not mean your soul is saved. Your body may not be saved, but your soul can be saved. You see my point: they are not the same. The physical salvation of the Chilean miners is only temporary, the salvation of the soul is eternal.  

Jesus Christ spent his life before he went back home to heaven doing good, especially temporal acts of salvation: healing the sick, opening blind eyes, unstopping deaf ears, providing miraclous food, walking on water, evicting demons and raising the dead (see Acts 10:38).  Talk about the SALVATION UNDERGROUND gone public!  He did so many wonders that the whole world could not contain the records (John 21:25). But one time he warned the crowd that was fed miraculously, “Do not work for food that spoils; instead, work for the food that lasts for eternal life. This is the food which the Son of Man will give you, because God, the Father, has put his mark of approval on him.” (John 6:27GNT).  We get out of trouble only to fall back into trouble again. That is the life we live. That is the here and now. Those who are healed physically can get sick again, those who are provided for financially can lose their money, those who were raised from the dead will die again. 

But eternal salvation is the greatest gift from which real joy comes. The gift of eternal life begins by the most powerful act of God! He takes the soul of  men and women that were once dead spiritually (Eph. 2:1-5) and regenerates them (John 3:3-8; Titus 3:5) or brings them back to life. They are born again with a living hope (1 Peter 1:3)! When the SALVATION UNDERGROUND goes public, once a person is born again that life can never be taken from them because it is the beginning of eternal life (John 10:27-29). Even if they die physically they will go on living eternally in heaven, because we are at home with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8).

There is physical life on earth and spiritual life in heaven. Jesus said, “Do not store up riches for yourselves here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal. Instead, store up riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal. ” (Mt. 6:19-20GNT). Things do not last on earth. They can be eaten away, rusted away and taken away. In heaven everything lasts forever.

Christ even empowered his disciples then and now to do wonders (Mt 10:1; Mk 16:16-18). But He laid out his disclaimer about miracles and taught his followers that real salvation is not because you can do wonders or have experienced miracles yourself (John 4:48).  The real joy of salvation is that our names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).  God can and will use people on earth to rescue others but only God can rescue our souls from eternal death and hell. “For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it.” (Eph 2:8-9). We should rejoice and be thankful when God rescues us in this life as he does so many many times. But his greatest gift is when he gives eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:9) to those who trust in Christ alone as Savior because “Salvation is to be found through him alone..” (Acts 4:12GNT). 

God may be speaking to your heart even now through this article. The Salvation Underground can go public in your life. He will bring you back from the dead and the first sight you will see will be Jesus Christ reaching his hand to you in this horrible pit of sin you are living in. You know without his help you will be lost!  He is the only One who cares and can save you!

The Voice of God in Nature

 

“Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty, give unto the LORD glory and strength. Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

The voice of the LORD is upon the waters: the God of glory thundereth: the LORD is upon many waters. The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.

 

The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars; yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon. He maketh them also to skip like a calf; Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.

 

The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire.

The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness; the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.

 

 

 

The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve, and discovereth the forests: and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.

The LORD sitteth upon the flood; yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever.

 

The LORD will give strength unto his people; the LORD will bless his people with peace.”

Revival

“It is not surprising that the Puritan movement in England believed so firmly in revivals of religion as the great means by which the Church advances in the world…When the Holy Spirit is poured out in a day of power the result is bound to affect whole communities and even nations. Conviction of sin, an anxiety to possess the Word of God, and dependence upon those truths which glorify God in man’s salvation, are inevitable consequences….to the Christians of that era, however, the explanation was entirely different. They read in Scripture that when the Spirit is poured from on high then the wilderness becomes a fruitful field [Isaiah 32:15].

They read also, ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts’ [Zechariah 4:6], and they attributed all the spiritual renewal of their age to the mercy of God. In taking this view they understood at once that all the successes of the Reformation were repeatable — as repeatable as the victories of the apostolic age — for Scripture places no limitation upon the Spirit’s work of glorifying Christ and extending His kingdom.

Thus there was recovered at the time of the Reformation belief in what may be called revival Christianity, and the attention which the Puritans who followed gave to this area of truth profoundly influenced the following centuries and gave to the English-speaking world what may be called the classic school of Protestant belief in revival.” (Ian Murray)

Some pastors teach that revival is not necessary since Christians are already alive in Christ.  But they forget that even Christians can very easily experience a decay in their passion for Christ that used to be like a great fire can become just smoking embers among the ashes of past experience. Their people are not There may be a great intermission or formality in the discharge of commanded duty. The mind, which once with delight and admiration, could meditate upon God and Christ, and the covenant, and things that are above, may come to lose its relish for these things, and to dote upon the transitory fading vanities of a present world. The common gifts of the Spirit, through carnal ease, and defect of employment, may be in a great measure blasted: and, which is worst of all, the saving graces, and fruits of the Spirit, may come to be woefully impaired as to their former degrees and acting. But now, this partial death of believers, again, is twofold: there is a deadness which is felt by God’s people, and a deadness which is not felt; “gray hairs are here and there upon them, sometimes, and they do not behold them.” The Lord was departed from Samson, and he wist not, Judg. 16:20. But then there is a deadness which is felt, when God’s people have a sense of their deadness, and are lamenting it. And it is an evidence of spiritual life, or of some revival, when the Lord’s people are beginning to cry out with the church, (Psa. 85:6:) “Wilt thou not revive us again; that thy people may rejoice in thee? — Why hast thou hardened our heart from thy fear?” (Isa. 63:17).

 

 

Don’t Create A Monster

monsters-inc-25306We are in danger of creating a monster!  How is that you ask? By abandoning the truth of scripture and  “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mk. 7:7).  It seems Pastors are teaching what ever suits them using religious language to help people be successful, happy and reach their dreams and potential.  In American Christianity today there is no doubt that an ugly caricature is growing at an alarming rate.  We are seeing  “worship centers” (I will not call them churches) who want to build the size of their numbers by man-centered sociological, psychological rules rather than by the written Word of God. Then there are the media versions of Christianity that are like infomercials for blessings such as, weight loss, marriage,  healing and deliverance.

Since we never would desire to create a monster, we must have every good intention to create something good. That may be the intention of ministers and their staff members today. But no matter. Monsters are a creation of the imagination run amuck. Like the fictional Dr. Victor Frankenstein, Ecclesiastical Scientists (I will not call them Preachers)  focus on playing God by creating life from dead flesh.  They are attempting to either imitate or replace the work of the Spirit by man-centered principles that are “born of the flesh or products of the sinful nature of men.  They want to create people in a religious mould. The One True God asks,  “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” (Gal 3:3).  The church growth movement is an religious experiment like no other in today’s form of humanistic Christianity. Rather than relying on the tried and tested testimonies of the scripture they test and try marketing techniques on people in churches. They are salesman selling soul dope and religious paraphernalia. It has ended up creating a religious monster, destructive, worldly and odious.

Only the power of the Holy Spirit can regenerate, only Christ can save and we are but men who should put our entire being into knowing Christ! Oh that America would repent of this great evil-that we have forsaken the Lord and turning churches into fleshly creations of idolatorus imaginations! Oh preachers are much too civilized, born and bred themselves in a religious matrix, and they are unwilling to face the truth and offer people the blue pill that keeps them slaves fed with religious misinformation that blinds them to the shining face of the Son of God (2 Cor 4:4).  They are the most diabolical agents of Satan, shimmering angels of light ( 2 Cor. 11:13-14). I think preachers need not only to offer the red pill but say like  Morpheus, “Remember, all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.” 

But is the truth enough for the man behind the pulpit today? The Gospel is a hard pill to swallow, scripture is dangerous to his projects and activities. American church goers  love the fleshpots of Egypt and are losing their freedom (Gal 5:1). They are forfeiting it for a false sense of security and a knock off God made in their own image. They are moral, weight watching, non smokers, non drinkers, heterosexual pro-life Republicans and so people see them as Christian. This is not enough to help those who are dead and lifeless in sin. You may find as you stand before God you worshipped in vain and all you learned was wrong.

Oh minister friend let your plans come to a screeching halt in the presence of a holy God. Let all your fleshly ideas unravel and your comeliness, vigor and strength become pale in the presence of the radiant light of God’s presence (Dan. 10:8)! Stop this foolishness and let the Lord Jesus of the Bible reign in your minds and hearts! The French theologian John Calvin stated, “Man’s mind is like a store of idolatry and superstition; so much so that if a man believes his own mind it is certain that he will forsake God and forge some idol in his own brain.”  The greatest idolatry is found right in the human heart-that is why all our notions, dreams, visions and goals must without another thought surrender to the Bible and it teaching about God and serving him.

People are lawbreakers in God’s sight and are hell bound souls-preaching the cross of Christ and the gospel serves as a warning to them. Left to themselves they will go to hell with ease. Like C.S. Lewis said, “The safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”  The man of God will warn them with no self interest. The man who shivers and breathes heavy even to correct his congregation is a gutless, spineless jellyfish. The greatest tragedy among pastors is when they step up to the pulpit with a message geared to “meet the needs of the people” rather than a message that is worship to the God who actually only can meet the needs of the people. Many pastors today are big schmoozers skilled at politics rather than “men sent from God” from the burning deserts where they have learned to hear the voice of God in the scriptures alone.

They reject the classical Christian Creeds and Confessions saying that they are inventions of man and tout, “I don’t have religion but a relationship with God!” or “We only need the Bible!”  But reject the systematic teaching set forth in scripture by the Reformers and hammered out by men of God in history. They constantly bend, I mean change the rules by introducing something they learned at the new Meccas of Saddleback or Willow Creek.  On the other hand, some will try even more extremes that range from a Toronto Blessing or Lakeland Revival.

Have they forfeited their relationship with Christ to be a servant of men? Paul’s idea of spiritual growth was “that I may know him” and his idea of ministry was to “make known Christ” was yet how often have we preached on the attributes of God that conveniently leaves out his Sovereignty, wrath, holiness, justice?! The grace, mercy and love preachers speak of today is not the same as scriptures testimony of the Lord but they have reinvented a more palatable version of Christ, the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit in the name of being in sync culturally.

Theology needs to have a prayer meeting and knee-ology needs to go to school. Forgetting the call has weakened the gospel ministry into religious science and clinically tested churchianity. It is turning people out in the church who are confused in their relationship with God.  That is the heart of the problem with religion and that is why the Reformation began in Europe because people ended up religious slaves! God heard their groanings and cries and sent men like Moses the man of God in the humble Reformers.

Many pastors purvey a  flimsy, spiritual sentimentality that calls for spiritual disarmament and focus on the pop-culture spin doctor theology. They are creating a monster.  The diseased infectious church growth movement is the bogus invention of spiritual mad scientists who for lack of courage to preach the Bible as it is and have embraced motivation psychology above the Word attempting to get the evil world system and the church in a strong relationship on some spiritual E-harmony commercial saying, “We love you” and can match you on 29 points of compatability!  It is a false advertisement when in fact they cannot love someone they are lying to.

Martin Luther in his commentary of Galatians said: “To this day you will find many who seek to please men in order that they may live in peace and security. They teach whatever is agreeable to men, no matter whether it is contrary to God’s Word or their own conscience. But we who endeavor to please God and not men, stir up hell itself. We must suffer reproach, slanders, death…The world is crucified unto me,” means that I condemn the world. “I am crucified unto the world,” means that the world in turn condemns me. I detest the doctrine, the self-righteousness, and the works of the world. The world in turn detests my doctrine and condemns me as a revolutionary heretic. Thus the world is crucified unto us and we unto the world.”

It is time for the men who stand in the pulpit to know that God’s judgment will fall like rain upon them removing them from their positions unless they repent! The Lord is passionate for his justice and his glory in his church,“For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.” (Isaiah 62:1) and he gladlywill  replace the ecclesiastical scientists with men who preach the truth, “I have set watchmen upon thy walls, O Jerusalem, which shall never hold their peace day nor night: ye that make mention of the LORD, keep not silence, “And give him no rest, till he establish, and till he make Jerusalem a praise in the earth.” (Isa. 62:6-7).

How many leaders will end up like Victor Frankenstein that as soon as his monster came to life he said, “the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.”

 Tell them the truth-don’t create a monster!

Tales From the Furnace Part 2

furnace3It is no comfort to know that everyone goes through trials (1 Cor 10:13; 1 Peter 5:8-9) unless you see that those trials melt us together to become one golden masterpiece. I love those who have melted in him, with me. The fellowship of his sufferings bring us together as Jesus prayed, “that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” (John 17:21-23).

 

You will be at your very worst and very best in trial. But when the futility of my own works is clearly seen I begin to feel after these trials as Job, “my soul chooseth strangling, and death rather than my life.” (Job 7:15KJV). I have grown weary with the ineffectiveness of my ministry. But I realize that God is doing a very deep work of humiliation and holiness in me. I hate these times. I do repent that I have despised the chastening of the Lord because if I despise it I deem him unjust and He is not. It is just everything is fire, smoke and I can hardly breathe.

 

I realize that the three Hebrew boys thrown into the furnace came out with no smoke, but they did have a flavor in them that they did not before. I cough, gasp, struggle for breath and cry for help. I am like a burning piece of wood, when will I be plucked from the flames (Amos 4:11)? All my pride is worthless, my heart naked, the varnish of my reputation stripped. All I hear and feel is a spiritual burning! My soul, mind and body melt in the crucible of God!

 

My soul is in prison and one can deliver me from his hands (Psalm 142:7). I am incarcerated, sentenced to these flames-he pours the liquor of heaven on me and set me afire so that somehow the taste of the brazen altar and its savor is in me! No one can remove me from this inferno, this purgatory! He looks the other way as I give my prayer performance in order to cause a diversion in his heart from being in this fire!

 

He has no regard to my Bible reading in hopes, reminding him of his promises and profession of faith in order to escape. I must go through the molten sanctification. The time has come that, “I must think of my sufferings as a weaning from that old sinful habit of always expecting to get my own way. Then I’ll be able to live out my days free to pursue what God wants instead of being tyrannized by what I want.” (1 Peter 4:1-2 MSG).

 

“Even from eternity I am He, and there is none who can deliver out of My hand; I act and who can reverse it?” (Isaiah 43:13NASB). All the prayers of my friends leave me untouched, I am invulnerable to my enemies I am in the fearful place, in the hands of the Sovereign God-the all consuming fire. He has swallowed me up in the belly of his fire, to separate the useless things from me. The thing I cannot use, should not use and will not use. Because they are burned! Useless, worthless, there is so much in me that desecrates the temple, defiling pollution!

 

Before I am transfigured it seems I must be disfigured. Or have I always been disfigured? All the comeliness, the perfect beauty God bestows upon me (Ezekiel 16:14) is removed. “For my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.” (Daniel 10:8).  It is a deathly pallor, or a face pale with death to self weakness, cowardice! There is only burning instead of beauty (Isaiah 3:24).

 

God is not an irresponsible parent. He beats me with his rod to deliver my soul from hell (Prov 23:14). Obedience is for my spiritual health and operating in wisdom to his intention and design in creating us and all around us we must use those things in the context he gave. If God sees an area in my life that refuses to respond in obedience and there are many he will resort to other measures that will cause “a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” (Heb. 12:11NLT).

 

God will not fight for me (Psalm 44:9) while he is fighting with me (Acts 5:39)! I try to fight him but he has beaten my resolve, my ability to fight as he turns my swords in to shovels, my spears into hoes-gardening tools (Isaiah 2:4). He uses that fight in me against me to accomplish his work of husbandry and farming! My life pours out of me like blood that he holds in his hands and absorbs like a cup.  I am like a sacrifice, a burnt offering on his burning altar (Rom. 12:1). Flesh and blood cannot inherit his kingdom! My flesh, my blood cannot do what his spirit and life can do! (John 6:63).

 

He does the deliberate work of sanctification exterminating the compound uselessness from my soul and unscrambling the useless wasteful abilities of my life-the ore of my life; refining, producing purity a nearly uncontaminated and a state suitable for his use. My filth pours out of me by this spirit of judgment and burning (Isaiah 4:4).

 

I cannot stand it any longer. “But who can endure the day of His coming and who can stand when He appears? For, He is like a refiner’s fire and like launderers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the LORD an offering in righteousness.” (Malachi 3:2-3NKJV). Don’t sing to me of this fire! There is nothing quixotic or romantic about it! “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the LORD tests hearts.” (Prov. 17:3).

 

The crucible is not just the furnace-but the bottom of the furnace! It is why he must lift me up out of the scum and excrement of self will, rebellion for it is ugly and vile. It is the only way I can have hope of being a vessel useful for God. It is all dross. That archaic word means Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer. (Prov 25:4KJV). In another version it says, “Remove impurities from the silver and the silversmith can craft a fine chalice.” (Prov 25:4). A chalice, an extraordinary vessel in my Lord’s eyes, a cup of communion! Oh I long to be lifted to the Lord’s lips as such! He communed with his Father and I was a horrible prospect (Rev 17:4). In a state where I desire not purity and embrace this fire he would rightly says over and over again, “Father let this cup pass from me!” (Mk 14: 36-39). But instead the Crucified one drinks from this weary cup as part of his Father’s will, the wrath of God against sinners, for my sake and drains it of all its impurity for he himself took on my diseased nature, sin sick nature and gave me his righteousness (Isaiah 53:4-5).

 

Now let him lift me to his lips as a chalice-a cup that the glorified Christ would drink from! He took the cup and if not mans eyes! Don’t preach to me theology about me difference between salvation and sanctification because if I am not cleansed eventually I would be lost-if I am his, really his I will bear fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” (Romans 6:22). Do not interfere with my beloved and I (Song 2:7; 8:4)

 

I must be holy in all I am and do! A life energetic and blazing with holiness! (1 Peter 1:15). He must make me holy even if he must teach me to resist sin with the surrender of my own life (Heb 12:4). To live is Christ to die is gain (Phil 1:21)! I cannot love my life, family, friends and dreams more than him or I will lose my life to sin and self’s destructive grasp (Mt 10:39)!

 

I know of his grace of his imputed righteousness but forgiveness is not enough I must find my fulfillment in doing the will of God, after that I have done the will of God I might receive the promise (Heb 10:36). Oh God strengthen me complete and perfect me and make me what I ought to be and equip me with everything good that I may carry out Your will while You Yourself work in me and accomplishes that which is pleasing in Your sight, through Jesus Christ! (Heb 13:21).

 

I can only rest in the Crucified One and somehow believe that, “My beloved is mine, and I am his” (Song 2:6).  It is amazing.  After a long study on the Song of Solomon and in the first chapter the Shulamite says, “I am weathered but still elegant, oh, dear sisters in Jerusalem, Weather–darkened like Kedar desert tents, time-softened like Solomon’s Temple hangings.” (Song 1:5MESSAGE).

 

Weathered- that is it! Weather beaten is more like it. How the trials of life can make us elegant is hard to comprehend. I feel ugly and useless. God erodes all our substances and our beauty (what we think is our beauty or righteousness) and softens us. It is when your heart is bruised, sore when you feel the stitches-God attempts to heal us after these spiritual surgeries. But like anything you have to be careful in your movements, if you do not rest or let it heal it bleeds all over again.  

 

If you find another way than by all means take it, though it I say that with much reservation. We all have a love hate relationship with the pressures of life and the squeezing of GOD’s hand to bring forth the juice of the fruit of the Spirit in us. When Paul visited Lystra, Iconium and Antioch he was “putting muscle and sinew in the lives of the disciples, urging them to stick with what they had begun to believe and not quit, making it clear to them that it wouldn’t be easy: “Anyone signing up for the kingdom of God has to go through plenty of hard times.” (Acts 14:22Message).

Exposing The Beast of Man’s Praise

to_chain_the_beast “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” (Rev. 21:8KJV).  I want to focus on the word fearful or cowards. Are the fearful cowards those who retreat from war, those who abandon their homes and family, or civic responsibility? These may be included but it focuses mainly on those that apostasize or fall away from Christ on account of fear. A.T. Roberston says that it is an old word that refers to recanting or retracting your beliefs under persecution.

The Beast in the book of Revelation has many interpretations but I am using this as an analogy not eschatologically. I see Satan intimidating preachers by his growling Beast and the seductive woman that sits upon it. From Saddleback to Broken Back he will do anything to stop the preacher of the gospel of Christ! This Beast threatens them with the fear of the loss of  finances, congregation size, and reputation. On one hand Satan raises up external forces like militant homosexuals, violent Islamic extremists, liberal politicians in places of power to make the preacher back down. Internally, the Devil raises up recycled church hoppers full of rebellion and bitterness,  he strategically places unregenerate people on an elder board, or church goers who are into the latest and greatest spirutual fads.  He coerces them to downsize their doctrine, and be generously compromising in their orthodoxy- upgrading activities, programs and entertainment. Idolatry to say the least is entertaining. That is what makes the Beast come to life.

God help those who choose this path that serves the Beast called “the praise of man.”  This is a day and age where courage is needed the most, especially behind the pulpit. God has called men to preach the gospel and minister his Word despite the consequences without letting fear deter them from their calling (2 Tim 1:7). But many men have become ashamed of the gospel of Christ and ashamed of Christ himself! It is almost as if they have taken black highlighter and smeared it all over the Bible.

With that that being said, today there is a growing number of ecclesiastical Castrati.  We have men standing behind the pulpit today with absolutely no guts to speak the truth (if they know what truth is) especially, if they are part of the church growth cult. The church growth movement is anti-biblical because it rejects the purest teaching of scripture the Sovereignty of God in his purpose of election by grace. It is also a reinvention of the church. It is not supernatural and definitely unnatural. It is not “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47) but a religious factory that employs empirical, social, scientific principles to build worship centers with entertainment, magic shows, and carnivals and a party like atmosphere that gives life to the image of their Beast so all will wonder (Rev. 13:15). 

Oh preacher friend take not the mark of such a delusive Beast! The Beast uses the fear of man to entrap many pastors. Your church must be built on the unique foundation of Christ! Appeal to people so you fill the building, building ideas and agendas on people make seem like there is spiritual life there but it is not. It is only the Beast becoming animated! It will make you  the lowest slave, subservient to the whims of people that change like the wind. But how seductive the praise of man remains batting its eyelashes, forcefully kissing and leading him away to the slaughter. Yet they love the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:43).  That is why all you hear is emaciated cheer-leading, unsubstantial motivational speaking and diet Bible sermonettes. It does not rock the boat. I am sickened by this limp wristed  “sharing.” Sure, every once in a great while they will preach something that touches the surface of truth and prick their congregation with a pin, or pinch them with a non specific message about sin but they are fearful to swing the sword of the spirit unless they gash of few of their large tithe payers. This is done at the cost of souls. How such preachers will spend eternity in hell for such cowardice.

You can see the fear of man in the content of preaching. They will say that they cannot preach about certain truths in the Bible. God did not call them to pick and choose!  They are to preach the whole counsel of God.  Then preachers play the psychologist. They concentrate on the many hurts and wounds of  church people. But God has not called them to invent medicine to heal them. Only God Word can help them. Only truths balm heals as its wine hurts.  Instead of exposing sin as the real culprit to save people from its power to hurt, they paint a pretty picture of their lives and fill them with false hopes and dreams (Lam 2:14).  Thus they breed and hatch a new kind of proselyte, manufactured of the flesh and not born of the spirit. It may seem shocking but Satan censors their preaching. How? Because they operate in fear and they engage in man centered, humanistic  pulpiteering .

American church structures  are so much like corporations they need motivational speaking the keep people working hard so they do not have time to be troubled about their souls. They make people feel as though they have  godlike potential and fill them the idea that their destiny is in their hands. It is despicable. They savour the things of men like Peter who for a moment rejected the idea of a crucified Savior (Mt 16:23). They set aside  the power of God for the attributes of man. They savour this christened humanism, they relish and enjoy it slowly! The message of the cross of Jesus Christ has been footnoted or made a deeper truth.  They have forgotten that all we preach is foolishness to the heart of an unregenerate person (1 Cor. 2:14) and it must be spiritually revealed. This is a heart condition that rejects the idea of a Supreme Deity!  The idea of an omnipotent God has no place in their hearts practically and eventually biblically. The God who decides in mercy who he will save and who in justice he condemns is seen as legalistic. They would rather pander to the felt needs of people rather than God’s glory. They have forgotten that every sermon should be holy and an act of worship not another commercial for agendas or new programs.

Truth is always subversive and shocking and pastors must not let the consequences that may come deter them  from their God given calling to walk uprightly according to the truth of the  gospel (Gal 2:14). While pastors must shepherd their flocks with love, compassion and understanding we still must speak the truth in love to a generation unwilling to receive the love of the truth (Eph. 4: 15; 2 Thess 2:10).  Oh that our fellowship was based on what John the apostle taught as we see our brethren as those we love in the truth! (2 John 1:1).  That preaching the truth would be seen as honorable, dignified and praiseworthy for men to blaze the truth of God from their pulpits and everyday lives that threaten the Beast of man worship. It is a frightening animal that tests the faith of every man or woman of God everyday. But it has been defeated in the lives of those who seek to do all things for the glory of God.