..."and a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the way of holiness; evil minded people shall not travel on it, but it shall be for those wayfarers who are traveling toward God. (Isaiah 35:8, adapted)



Tuesday, March 18, 2008

A Compromised Gospel: Seduced by Safety or Sensuality?

A Compromised Gospel: Seduced by Safety or Sensuality?

When the Son of Man comes will He find faith in
the earth? (Luke 18:8)


I have been prayerfully pacing the floors
of my house lately. I know the world apart
from Christ is quite insane. It is the
Church that I am really concerned about.

On one hand I see part of the Church, in an
attempt to present a "reasonable" gospel,
sitting placidly on the shores of safety.
Not wanting to offend modern sensibilities,
they fine-tune all the "static" out
of the hard-to-hear message of Jesus.

"Was I hearing Jesus say, "sell all?"

"Oh, no, Jesus would never say that, He
is too kind and loving. He wants us to
prosper, and get things, not get rid of things."

"Was I hearing Jesus say, "Repent, for the
kingdom of heaven is at hand?"

"Oh, no, Jesus would not say that, He
humbly waits for you to notice Him and
need Him just a little bit, so invite Him
in, just a little bit. Give Him a try, like the
test-drive on a new car. If He doesn't suit you,
turn Him back in."

The church of safety is precariously perched
on the word "balanced." It is buffered from
the hard sayings of Jesus by a strong sense of
the importance of "playing safe." In an
extreme world, it reacts against extremes with
the promise of respectability and stability
and "family values", which in America can
degenerate into the children determining what
the family does. It shuns losing control of its
meetings, shuns being really open to the workings
of God, because that is not predictably "safe".
(If you have ever met Him, He is not "a tame Lion.")

Are we inoculating people against receiving
the full gospel? If we get them in the door and
they stay, will they ever go on to hearing, and
then obeying, the meat of the Word and not
the milk? Or has even the milk gone slightly sour?

Churches with this agenda pride themselves in
the presentation of "nice" programs, fun agendas
and great music with a "reasonable" bit of "faith"
thrown in. I wonder if this is exactly the kind
of thing that Jesus wants to vomit up in Revelation 3:16?

Christ calls us to give up fame, family and
fortune if need by. He does not flinch if you,
or your family, or the neighbors are offended by
His Word or if business-as-usual runs off schedule
in the meeting.

We can not usually control what our leaders do.
But we can look at our own hearts for we will
stand before God alone. Is there an unreasonable
amount of safety in your relationship with Jesus?

I am not asking you to behave as some kind of
raving lunatic, as you shall soon read, but I
do ask you, as I ask myself, "Have I played it
too safe?"

For fear of "hurting" you, and then you rejecting
me, have I watered down what I need to say or
do? Do I feel comfortable and satisfied
with my walk with the Lord? (I'm not sure
anyone can ever say a clear-conscienced "yes" to
that.) Am I too uncommitted in my approach to
things that I could easily walk by "a certain
man" attacked and wounded on the road to Jericho
(Luke 10:25-37)? Am I sitting on the fence about
spiritual things? Often we cannot see these things
in ourselves until it is too late. What worries me
is that 10 "Christians" went out to wait for Jesus
in Matthew 25 (1-13). Only 5 are received of Him.

On the other hand I am alarmed at the infiltration
of seemingly unbridled sensuality into sanctuaries
that claim to be the house of God. We have become
such seekers of supernatural experience that we no
longer seem to judge it by scripture. Coming up with
one verse of scripture,taken out of context, is not
judging something by the whole counsel of God.

Corinth is at hand. Segments of the church, segments
who often view themselves to be on the "cutting
edge of what God is doing," are becoming used to
extremely strange manifestations and off-center
prophetic words that they quickly attribute to
the Holy Spirit. One wonders with what standard,
if any, that these signs are being measured by as
they appear to smack loudly of the flesh and not the
Holy Spirit. Is anyone noticing?

Not only is there not much scriptural discernment
about the manifestations but it seems that
the crazier things get, the happier everyone is.
Solomon said, "He who digs a pit will
fall into it, and whoever breaks through a wall
will be bitten by a serpent" (Eccl.10:8). Is a
wall of spiritual licentiousness being broken
through? Many "follow the cloud" looking for
their next fix of "holy ghost goosebumps".

The question is, "Is the cloud they are under
from the Lord or a dust storm of the Enemy?"
Israel followed the cloud also, but they were
a rebellious people left in the desert for
forty years instead of entering quickly into
the Promised Land. God led them in circles
until all but two died in the desert. In the Old
Testament God gave many "prophets" over to their
own delusions (Isaiah 28: 7,8; Ezekiel 13).

Those prone to sensuality measure the success
of their meetings by how much is stirred up,
and often measure their degree of spirituality by
whether they have "been there and done that."
Are we measuring things as spiritual because those
around us see them as "spiritual'? or are we judging
with righteous judgments according to the Word of
God? God is a Spirit: when we are in His Presence
supernatural things will happen for He is supernatural.
But He is a Holy Spirit. A Holy Spirit. A Holy
Spirit.
Are you catching my drift?

Jonathan Edwards lamented writing his "Narrative of
the Surprising Work of God, Northampton,
Massachusetts, 1737
" in the manner he did. He said
that he made a grave mistake focusing on the the
more sensational manifestations rather than waiting
a few years and measuring the revival by its lasting
fruit.

No doubt, the work of God is always surprising, yet
any work of God is birthed by His holiness, and
bears holy fruit. We as humans may react to
that work in odd ways, with odd reactions, but that
is not a measure of our spirituality but a measure
of our weakness.

Many pagan religions wed sensuality and spirituality.
What should have marked Israel's relationship with
God was a spirit of holiness and purity, but she was
sorely judged for trying to approach God with the
same unbridled sensuality as her pagan neighbors
did with their gods. God smacked it down, as God should.
I am just worried that we don't see the smack coming.
God forbid that He give us over to our flesh.

Above I suggested that, of the ten virgins waiting
for Jesus, five were not invited in. What worries me
on this side of things is that Jesus said that many
people who performed miracles, cast out demons,
worked wonders would also be cast away. He called
them "lawless" (Matthew 7:22,23). Lawless: unbridled,
unable to be led, without discipline, not yoked to
Christ, given over to the flesh and not the Spirit
of God.

"Of whom I tell you weeping, that they are the
enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is
destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose
glory is in their shame..." Philippians 3:18.

I write this not to alarm you, but to provoke
you to examine yourselves to see whether you be
in the faith, for the enemy of our souls would,
as we near the end of all things, seek to deceive
the very elect of God (Matt. 24:24).

There is the old adage, "better safe than sorry":
this is human wisdom, I'm afraid. The only safety
we have is clinging completely to Christ Jesus.
On the one hand we can try to find a safe port,
according to human reason, and miss the boat headed
to the City of God. On the other hand we can mistake
human passions and sensuality for the Spirit of God,
and in so doing, be led far from the holiness
without which no man will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).

One glance at the holiness of God will, as Isaiah
found out, put an end to both a "safe" gospel and
the fleshly carousings of the human heart. Isaiah
was stopped in his tracks at the sight of a holy
God. May we see Him and be likewise transformed
by a coal from His altar. This is our only hope.

Pray for the Church.









1 comment:

grower said...

Thank you, brother. That is a timely word from God.