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We may not agree with every idea that these authors, books, and articles present, but consider them safe and edifying as presented here.  As always, all must use discernment in anything  read and heard.

Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
                                                                                                       1Thess 5:21
Beloved, do not believe every spirit,
but test the spirits to see whether they are from God,
for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1John 4:1
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THE OLD CROSS AND THE NEW
A W Tozer

ALL UNANNOUNCED AND MOSTLY UNDETECTED there has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different: the likenesses are superficial; the differences, fundamental.

From this new cross has sprung a new philosophy of the Christian life, and from that new philosophy has come a new evangelical technique—a new type of meeting and a new kind of preaching. This new evangelism employs the same language as the old, but its content is not the same and its emphasis not as before.

The old cross would have no truck with the world. For Adam’s proud flesh it meant the end of the journey. It carried into effect the sentence imposed by the law of Sinai. The new cross is not opposed to the human race; rather, it is a friendly pal and, if understood aright, it is the source of oceans of good clean fun and innocent enjoyment. It lets Adam live without interference. His life motivation is unchanged; he still lives for his own pleasure, only now he takes delight in singing choruses and watching religious movies instead of singing bawdy songs and drinking hard liquor. The accent is still on enjoyment, though the fun is now on a higher plane morally if not intellectually.

The new cross encourages a new and entirely different evangelistic approach. The evangelist does not demand abnegation of the old life before a new life can be received. He preaches not contrasts but similarities. He seeks to key into public interest by showing that Christianity makes no unpleasant demands; rather, it offers the same thing the world does, only on a higher level. Whatever the sin-mad world happens to be clamoring after at the moment is cleverly shown to be the very thing the gospel offers, only the religious product is better.

The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect. To the self-assertive it says, “Come and assert yourself for Christ.” To the egotist it says, “Come and do your boasting in the Lord.” To the thrillseeker it says, “Come and enjoy the thrill of Christian fellowship.” The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public.

The philosophy back of this kind of thing may be sincere but its sincerity does not save it from being false. It is false because it is blind. It misses completely the whole meaning of the cross.

The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being. The man in Roman times who took up his cross and started down the road had already said good-by to his friends, He was not coming back. He was going out to have it ended. The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck cruel and hard, and when it had finished its work, the man was no more.

The race of Adam is under death sentence. There is no commutation and no escape. God cannot approve any of the fruits of sin, however innocent they may appear or beautiful to the eyes of men. God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life.

That evangelism which draws friendly parallels between the ways of God and the ways of men is false to the Bible and cruel to the souls of its hearers. The faith of Christ does not parallel the world, it intersects it. In coming to Christ we do not bring our old life up onto a higher plane; we leave it at the cross. The corn of wheat must fall into the ground and die.

We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum.

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in God’s just sentence against him.

What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life? Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself. Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing. Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God’s stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die.

Having done this let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Saviour, and from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power. The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ.

To any who may object to this or count it merely a narrow and private view of truth, let me say God has set His hallmark of approval upon this message from Paul’s day to the present. Whether stated in these exact words or not, this has been the content of all preaching that has brought life and power to the world through the centuries. The mystics, the reformers, the revivalists have put their emphasis here, and signs and wonders and mighty operations of the Holy Ghost gave witness to God’s approval.

Dare we, the heirs of such a legacy of power, tamper with the truth? Dare we with our stubby pencils erase the lines of the blueprint or alter the pattern shown us in the Mount? May God forbid. Let us preach the old cross and we will know the old power.

Traitorous Evangelical Preaching

Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest
The Miracle of Belief – July 17

“My speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom …”
1 Corinthians 2:4.

Paul was a scholar and an orator of the highest degree; he was not speaking here out of a deep sense of humility, but was saying that when he preached the gospel, he would veil the power of God if he impressed people with the excellency of his speech. Belief in Jesus is a miracle produced only by the effectiveness of redemption, not by impressive speech, nor by wooing and persuading, but only by the sheer unaided power of God. The creative power of redemption comes through the preaching of the gospel, but never because of the personality of the preacher.

Real and effective fasting by a preacher is not fasting from food, but fasting from eloquence, from impressive diction, and from everything else that might hinder the gospel of God being presented. The preacher is there as the representative of God—“… as though God were pleading through us …” (2 Corinthians 5:20). He is there to present the gospel of God. If it is only because of my preaching that people desire to be better, they will never get close to Jesus Christ. Anything that flatters me in my preaching of the gospel will result in making me a traitor to Jesus, and I prevent the creative power of His redemption from doing its work.

“And I, if I am lifted up …, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:32)

Christian Work

September 9
from Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest,

Do It Yourself

“… bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ …” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Determinedly Discipline Other Things. This is another difficult aspect of the strenuous nature of sainthood. Paul said, according to the Moffatt translation of this verse, “… I take every project prisoner to make it obey Christ … .” So much Christian work today has never been disciplined, but has simply come into being by impulse! In our Lord’s life every project was disciplined to the will of His Father. There was never the slightest tendency to follow the impulse of His own will as distinct from His Father’s will—“the Son can do nothing of Himself …” (John 5:19). Then compare this with what we do—we take “every thought” or project that comes to us by impulse and jump into action immediately, instead of imprisoning and disciplining ourselves to obey Christ

Practical work for Christians is greatly overemphasized today, and the saints who are “bringing every thought [and project] into captivity” are criticized and told that they are not determined, and that they lack zeal for God or zeal for the souls of others. But true determination and zeal are found in obeying God, not in the inclination to serve Him that arises from our own undisciplined human nature. It is inconceivable, but true nevertheless, that saints are not “bringing every thought [and project] into captivity,” but are simply doing work for God that has been instigated by their own human nature, and has not been made spiritual through determined discipline.

We have a tendency to forget that a person is not only committed to Jesus Christ for salvation, but is also committed, responsible, and accountable to Jesus Christ’s view of God, the world, and of sin and the devil. This means that each person must recognize the responsibility to “be transformed by the renewing of [his] mind… .” (Romans 12:2).

January 2

from Oswald Chambers, 
My Utmost for His Highest,

Will You Go Out Without Knowing?

“He went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).
Have you ever “gone out” in this way? If so, there is no logical answer possible when anyone asks you what you are doing. One of the most difficult questions to answer in Christian work is, “What do you expect to do?” You don’t know what you are going to do. The only thing you know is that God knows what He is doing. Continually examine your attitude toward God to see if you are willing to “go out” in every area of your life, trusting in God entirely. It is this attitude that keeps you in constant wonder, because you don’t know what God is going to do next. Each morning as you wake, there is a new opportunity to “go out,” building your confidence in God.
“… do not worry about your life … nor about the body …” (Luke 12:22).

In other words, don’t worry about the things that concerned you before you did “go out.”

Have you been asking God what He is going to do? He will never tell you. God does not tell you what He is going to do—He reveals to you who He is. Do you believe in a miracle-working God, and will you “go out” in complete surrender to Him until you are not surprised one iota by anything He does?

Believe God is always the God you know Him to be when you are nearest to Him. Then think how unnecessary and disrespectful worry is! Let the attitude of your life be a continual willingness to “go out” in dependence upon God, and your life will have a sacred and inexpressible charm about it that is very satisfying to Jesus. You must learn to “go out” through your convictions, creeds, or experiences until you come to the point in your faith where there is nothing between yourself and God.

March 4

from Oswald Chambers, 
My Utmost for His Highest,

Is This True of Me?

“None of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself …” (Acts 20:24).

It is easier to serve or work for God without a vision and without a call because then you are not bothered by what He requires. Common sense, covered with a layer of Christian emotion, becomes your guide. You may be more prosperous and successful from the world’s perspective and will have more leisure time if you never acknowledge the call of God. But once you receive a commission from Jesus Christ, the memory of what God asks of you will always be there to prod you on to do His will. You will no longer be able to work for Him on the basis of common sense.

What do I count in my life as “dear to myself”? If I have not been seized by Jesus Christ and have not surrendered myself to Him, I will consider the time I decide to give God and my own ideas of service as dear. I will also consider my own life as “dear to myself.” But Paul said he considered his life dear so that he might fulfill the ministry he had received, and he refused to use his energy on anything else. This verse shows an almost noble annoyance by Paul at being asked to consider himself. He was absolutely indifferent to any consideration other than that of fulfilling the ministry he had received. Our ordinary and reasonable service to God may actually compete against our total surrender to Him. Our reasonable work is based on the following argument which we say to ourselves, “Remember how useful you are here, and think how much value you would be in that particular type of work.” That attitude chooses our own judgment, instead of Jesus Christ, to be our guide as to where we should go and where we could be used the most. Never consider whether or not you are of use—but always consider that “you are not your own” (1 Corinthians 6:19). You are His.

July 5
Don’t Plan Without God

“Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5).

Don’t plan without God. God seems to have a delightful way of upsetting the plans we have made when we have not taken Him into account. We get ourselves into circumstances that were not chosen by God, and suddenly we realize that we have been making our plans without Him—that we have not even considered Him to be a vital, living factor in the planning of our lives. And yet the only thing that will keep us from even the possibility of worrying is to bring God in as the greatest factor in all of our planning.

In spiritual issues, it is customary for us to put God first, but we tend to think that it is inappropriate and unnecessary to put Him first in the practical, everyday issues of our lives. If we have the idea that we have to put on our “spiritual face” before we can come near to God, then we will never come near to Him. We must come as we are.
Don’t plan with a concern for evil in mind. Does God really mean for us to plan without taking the evil around us into account? “Love … thinks no evil” (1 Corinthians 13:4–5). Love is not ignorant of the existence of evil, but it does not take it into account as a factor in planning. When we were apart from God, we did take evil into account, doing all of our planning with it in mind, and we tried to reason out all of our work from its standpoint.

Don’t plan with a rainy day in mind. You cannot hoard things for a rainy day if you are truly trusting Christ. Jesus said,

 “Let not your heart be troubled …” (John 14:1).

God will not keep your heart from being troubled. It is a command—“Let not … .” To do it, continually pick yourself up, even if you fall a hundred and one times a day, until you get into the habit of putting God first and planning with Him in mind.

Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats?

by Charles Spurgeon (edited)

An evil is in the ‘professed’ camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most shortsighted Christian can hardly fail to notice it. During the past few years this evil has developed at an alarming rate. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments!
The devil has seldom done a more clever thing, than hinting to the Church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them. From speaking out the gospel, the Church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses!

My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church. If it is a Christian work why did not Christ speak of it? ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature, and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel’.

No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to Him. Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people, or because they confronted them? The ‘concert’ has no martyr roll.

Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all His apostles. What was the attitude of the apostolic Church to the world? “You are the salt of the world”, not the sugar candy; something the world will spit out, not swallow.

Had Jesus introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into His teaching, He would have been more popular. When “many of His disciples turned back and no longer followed Him,” I do not hear Him say, ‘Run after these people, Peter, and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow; something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it! Be quick, Peter, we must get the people somehow!’

No! Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them!

In vain will the epistles be searched to find any trace of the ‘gospel of amusement’. Their message is, “Therefore, come out from them and separate yourselves from them… Don’t touch their filthy things…” Anything approaching amusement is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon.

After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the Church had a prayer meeting, but they did not pray, ‘Lord, grant unto your servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are’.

No! They did not cease from preaching Christ. They had no time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution they went everywhere preaching the gospel. They turned the world upside down; that is the only difference from today’s church.

Lastly, amusement fails to effect the end desired. Let the heavy laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment had been God’s link in the chain of their conversion, stand up! There are none to answer! The mission of amusement produces no converts!

The need of the hour for today’s ministry is earnest spirituality joined with Biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire.


THE WANING AUTHORITY OF CHRIST IN THE CHURCHES

A W Tozer

 

HERE IS THE BURDEN of my heart; and while I claim for myself no special inspiration I yet feel that this is also the burden of the Spirit.
If I know my own heart it is love alone that moves me to write this. What I write here is not the sour ferment of a mind agitated by contentions with my fellow Christians. There have been no such contentions. I have not been abused, mistreated or attacked by anyone. Nor have these observations grown out of any unpleasant experiences that I have had in my association with others. My relations with my own church as well as with Christians of other denominations have been friendly, courteous and pleasant. My grief is simply the result of a condition which I believe to be almost universally prevalent among the churches.

I think also that I should acknowledge that I am myself very much involved in the situation I here deplore. As Ezra in his mighty prayer of intercession included himself among the wrongdoers, so do I. “0 my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to thee, my God: for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespass is grown up unto the heavens.” Any hard word spoken here against others must in simple honesty return upon my own head. I too have been guilty. This is written with the hope that we all may turn unto the Lord our God and sin no more against Him.

Let me state the cause of my burden. It is this: Jesus Christ has today almost no authority at all among the groups that call themselves by His name. By these I mean not the Roman Catholics nor the liberals, nor the various quasi-Christian cults. I do mean Protestant churches generally, and I include those that protest the loudest that they are in spiritual descent from our Lord and His apostles, namely, the evangelicals.

It is a basic doctrine of the New Testament that after His resurrection the Man Jesus was declared by God to be both Lord and Christ, and that He was invested by the Father with absolute Lordship over the church which is His Body. All authority is His in heaven and in earth. In His own proper time He will exert it to the full, but during this period in history He allows this authority to be challenged or ignored. And just now it is being challenged by the world and ignored by the church.

The present position of Christ in the gospel churches may be likened to that of a king in a limited, constitutional monarchy. The king (sometimes depersonalized by the term “the Crown”) is in such a country no more than a traditional rallying point, a pleasant symbol of unity and loyalty much like a flag or a national anthem. He is lauded, feted and supported, but his real authority is small. Nominally he is head over all, but in every crisis someone else makes the decisions. On formal occasions he appears in his royal attire to deliver the tame, colorless speech put into his mouth by the real rulers of the country. The whole thing may be no more than good-natured make-believe, but it is rooted in antiquity, it is a lot of fun and no one wants to give it up.
Among the gospel churches Christ is now in fact little more than a beloved symbol. “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” is the church’s national anthem and the cross is her official flag, but in the week-by-week services of the church and the day-by-day conduct of her members someone else, not Christ, makes the decisions. Under proper circumstances Christ is allowed to say “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden” or “Let not your heart be troubled,” but when the speech is finished someone else takes over. Those in actual authority decide the moral standards of the church, as well as all objectives and all methods employed to achieve them. Because of long and meticulous organization it is now possible for the youngest pastor just out of seminary to have more actual authority in a church than Jesus Christ has.

Not only does Christ have little or no authority; His influence also is becoming less and less. I would not say that He has none, only that it is small and diminishing. A fair parallel would be the influence of Abraham Lincoln over the American people. Honest Abe is still the idol of the country. The likeness of his kind, rugged face, so homely that it is beautiful, appears everywhere. It is easy to grow misty-eyed over him. Children are brought up on stories of his love, his honesty and his humility.

But after we have gotten control over our tender emotions what have we left? No more than a good example which, as it recedes into the past, becomes more and more unreal and exercises less and less real influence. Every scoundrel is ready to wrap Lincoln’s long black coat around him. In the cold light of political facts in the United States the constant appeal to Lincoln by the politicians is a cynical joke.

The Lordship of Jesus is not quite forgotten among Christians, but it has been relegated to the hymnal where all responsibility toward it may be comfortably discharged in a glow of pleasant religious emotion. Or if it is taught as a theory in the classroom it is rarely applied to practical living. The idea that the Man Christ Jesus has absolute and final authority over the whole church and over all of its members in every detail of their lives is simply not now accepted as true by the rank and file of evangelical Christians.
What we do is this: We accept the Christianity of our group as being identical with that of Christ and His apostles. The beliefs, the practices, the ethics, the activities of our group are equated with the Christianity of the New Testament. Whatever the group thinks or says or does is scriptural, no questions asked. It is assumed that all our Lord expects of us is that we busy ourselves with the activities of the group. In so doing we are keeping the commandments of Christ.

To avoid the hard necessity of either obeying or rejecting the plain instructions of our Lord in the New Testament we take refuge in a liberal interpretation of them. Casuistry is not the possession of Roman Catholic theologians alone. We evangelicals also know how to avoid the sharp point of obedience by means of fine and intricate explanations. These are tailor-made for the flesh. They excuse disobedience, comfort carnality and make the words of Christ of none effect. And the essence of it all is that Christ simply could not have meant what He said. His teachings are accepted even theoretically only after they have been weakened by interpretation.

Yet Christ is consulted by increasing numbers of persons with “problems” and sought after by those who long for peace of mind. He is widely recommended as a kind of spiritual psychiatrist with remarkable powers to straighten people out. He is able to deliver them from their guilt complexes and to help them to avoid serious psychic traumas by making a smooth and easy adjustment to society and to their own ids. Of course this strange Christ has no relation whatever to the Christ of the New Testament. The true Christ is also Lord, but this accommodating Christ is little more than the servant of the people.

But I suppose I should offer some concrete proof to support my charge that Christ has little or no authority today among the churches. Well, let me put a few questions and let the answers be the evidence.

What church board consults our Lord’s words to decide matters under discussion? Let anyone reading this who has had experience on a church board try to recall the times or time when any board member read from the Scriptures to make a point, or when any chairman suggested that the brethren should see what instructions the Lord had for them on a particular question. Board meetings are habitually opened with a formal prayer or “a season of prayer”; after that the Head of the Church is respectfully silent while the real rulers take over. Let anyone who denies this bring forth evidence to refute it. I for one will be glad to hear it.

What Sunday school committee goes to the Word for directions? Do not the members invariably assume that they already know what they are supposed to do and that their only problem is to find effective means to get it done? Plans, rules, “operations” and new methodological techniques absorb all their time and attention. The prayer before the meeting is for divine help to carry out their plans. Apparently the idea that the Lord might have some instructions for them never so much as enters their heads.

Who remembers when a conference chairman brought his Bible to the table with him for the purpose of using it? Minutes, regulations, rules of order, yes. The sacred commandments of the Lord, no. An absolute dichotomy exists between the devotional period and the business session. The first has no relation to the second.

What foreign mission board actually seeks to follow the guidance of the Lord as provided by His Word and His Spirit? They all think they do, but what they do in fact is to assume the scripturalness of their ends and then ask for help to find ways to achieve them. They may pray all night for God to give success to their enterprises, but Christ is desired as their helper, not as their Lord. Human means are devised to achieve ends assumed to be divine. These harden into policy, and thereafter the Lord doesn’t even have a vote.

In the conduct of our public worship where is the authority of Christ to be found? The truth is that today the Lord rarely controls a service, and the influence He exerts is very small. We sing of Him and preach about Him, but He must not interfere; we worship our way, and it must be right because we have always done it that way, as have the other churches in our group.
What Christian when faced with a moral problem goes straight to the Sermon on the Mount or other New Testament Scripture for the authoritative answer? Who lets the words of Christ be final on giving, birth control, the bringing up of a family, personal habits, tithing, entertainment, buying, selling and other such important matters?

What theological school, from the lowly Bible institute up, could continue to operate if it were to make Christ Lord of its every policy? There may be some, and I hope there are, but I believe I am right when I say that most such schools” to stay in business are forced to adopt procedures which find no justification in the Bible they profess to teach. So we have this strange anomaly: the authority of Christ is ignored in order to maintain a school to teach among other things the authority of Christ.

The causes back of the decline in our Lord’s authority are many. I name only two.

One is the power of custom, precedent and tradition within the older religious groups. These like gravitation affect every particle of religious practice within the group, exerting a steady and constant pressure in one direction. Of course that direction is toward conformity to the status quo. Not Christ but custom is lord in this situation. And the same thing has passed over (possibly to a slightly lesser degree) into the other groups such as the full gospel tabernacles, the holiness churches, the pentecostal and fundamental churches and the many independent and undenominational churches found everywhere throughout the North American continent.

The second cause is the revival of intellectualism among the evangelicals. This, if I sense the situation correctly, is not so much a thirst for learning as a desire for a reputation of being learned. Because of it good men who ought to know better are being put in the position of collaborating with the enemy. I’ll explain.

Our evangelical faith (which I believe to be the true faith of Christ and His apostles) is being attacked these days from many different directions. In the Western world the enemy has forsworn violence. He comes against us no more with sword and fagot; he now comes smiling, bearing gifts. He raises his eyes to heaven and swears that he too believes in the faith of our fathers, but his real purpose is to destroy that faith, or at least to modify it to such an extent that it is no longer the supernatural thing it once was. He comes in the name of philosophy or psychology or anthropology, and with sweet reasonableness urges us to rethink our historic position, to be less rigid, more tolerant, more broadly understanding.

He speaks in the sacred jargon of the schools, and many of our half-educated evangelicals run to fawn on him. He tosses academic degrees to the scrambling sons of the prophets as Rockefeller used to toss dimes to the children of the peasants. The evangelicals who, with some justification, have been accused of lacking true scholarship, now grab for these status symbols with shining eyes, and when they get them they are scarcely able to believe their eyes. They walk about in a kind of ecstatic unbelief, much as the soloist of the neighborhood church choir might were she to be invited to sing at La Scala.

For the true Christian the one supreme test for the present soundness and ultimate worth of everything religious must be the place our Lord occupies in it. Is He Lord or symbol? Is He in charge of the project or merely one of the crew? Does He decide things or only help to carry out the plans of others? All religious activities, from the simplest act of an individual Christian to the ponderous and expensive operations of a whole denomination, may be proved by the answer to the question, Is Jesus Christ Lord in this act? Whether our works prove to be wood, hay and stubble or gold and silver and precious stones in that great day will depend upon the right answer to that question.

What, then, are we to do? Each one of us must decide, and there are at least three possible choices. One is to rise up in shocked indignation and accuse me of irresponsible reporting. Another is to nod general agreement with what is written here but take comfort in the fact that there are exceptions and we are among the exceptions. The other is to go down in meek humility and confess that we have grieved the Spirit and dishonored our Lord in failing to give Him the place His Father has given Him as Head and Lord of the Church.
Either the first or the second will but confirm the wrong. The third if carried out to its conclusion can remove the curse. The decision lies with us.

 

The “Job’s Counselor” Syndrome

DiscereningTruth.com

Where did any of Job”s counsellors speak heresy or error?  Where did they not give God glory or did not speak in awe of Him?  None of them could be charged with speaking wrong doctrines or being unacquainted with God’s ways.  Their words were filled with reverence for God and represented sound thinking.  They even discerned that Job tended to justify himself in his integrity before God.   Yet God said to them

And it was so, that after the LORD had spoken these words unto Job,
the LORD said to Eliphaz the Temanite,
My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends:
for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right,
as my servant Job hath.
Job 42:7

The problem with Job’s counselors was not that they were saying things that were not true, but that they were saying true things that had nothing to do with God’s reality at the time.  They were using God’s truths according to their own understanding.  The truths they brought forth did not express God’s mind in Job’s situation.  They were probably sincere in their desire to solve and shed light on Job’s predicament, but they were wrong.  True things can be spoken but become profane in God’s eyes because they are misused or misapplied.

Today, men are using God’s truths to devise systems to do everything from Sunday school, to evangelism, to discipleship, to growing the church.  They are the modern day Job’s counselors.  Often, no one can fault the truths they are using.  But God’s truths were never meant to be handled and directed and used by men.  They are ever and always in the sole province of God.  While God can and does call on men to express those truths in specific situations, He never intended that men would use His words to take the initiative to accomplish a good goal or fulfill a commandment.
One of the most frequent statements I hear from church members is: “My pastor preaches only from the bible and is doctrinally sound.”  If one has such a pastor, there are faring better than most.  But, ultimately, such a pastor could well miss God and be as a Job’s counselor who has incurred God’s wrath.  There is too little awe and respect for what God has to say in any given situation.  We assume that if we can say true things out of the scripture, God is pleased with us.  

It is only the word that comes forth from His mouth that will not return void.  It is only the word that comes forth from His mouth that will break the rock asunder and set the captive free. .  There is a vast difference, the difference of life and death, between God speaking through a man and a man speaking words of truth that God has said.  Those words may set no one free and can return void.   God’s words remain God’s words and are not meant for us to borrow or repeat as we see fit.  Man must still live by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

Isaiah 66 also speaks of the situation where ministers were doing the right things, wrongly.  In that chapter God tells us what type of person He looks for – one who is  ” poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word”: Not those who know how to package His word and create a dynamic, thrilling sermon;  not those who want to have all their “i’s” dotted and their “t’s” crossed; not those who are trying to pass on biblical information or make their church prosperous.  God’s word is life and creates life and gives life.

Are all those correct sermons producing life?  Does that life look like the life spoken of by Jesus and the Apostles?  Or has the church so devolved that it equates life with a good message or a good worship service, or “I really liked church today”?  Such words are neither turning Christians upside down nor the world upside down.   Most sermons of today are producing Christians that look like the world, act like the world, pursue the world, and cling to the world.  Such things are spiritualized and endorsed under the guise of evangelism – “we have to be like them to attract them”.  How contrary that is to what Jesus and the Apostles preached and practiced!

 
The speaking of many right truths and words is killing Christianity and the church.  It is the device of Satan to use God’s word to suit his intentions.  The church needs to hear the right truths, in the right situation, at the right time and speak out of a right spirit.   
The nagging thought that brings sobriety to any preaching is: Who is sufficient for such things?” To such a one, God is most apt to speak His words through.   It seems to me the only way to prepare for speaking to God’s people is by spending much time in one’s face before God, not daring to construct a message until “God has spoken”.   The church is dying for lack of life and the only cure is for ministers (all of us, not just “leaders”) to speak God’s word of Life received from the throne room in the days before. 
 
Man must return to the prime injunction that Jesus lived His life by:  Thou shalt live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. 

THE MOST CRITICAL NEED
by A.W. Tozer

 

THE MOST CRITICAL NEED of the Church at this moment is men – the right kind of men, bold men. The talk is that we need revival, that we need a new baptism of the Holy Spirit – and God knows we must have both – but God will not revive mice. He will not fill rabbits with the Holy Spirit.

We languish for men who feel themselves expendable in the warfare of the soul because they have already died to the allurements of this world. Such men will be free from the compulsions that control weaker men. They will not be forced to do things by the squeeze of circumstances. Their only compulsion will come from within – or from above.

This kind of freedom is necessary if we are to have prophets in our pulpits again instead of mascots. These free men will serve God and mankind from motives too high to be understood by the rank and file of religious retainers who today shuttle in and out of the sanctuary. They will make no decisions out of fear, take no course out of a desire to please, accept no service for financial considerations, perform no religious acts out of mere custom, nor allow themselves to be influenced by the love of publicity or the desire for reputation.

Much that the church – even the evangelical church – is doing today, it is doing because it is afraid not to do it. Ministerial associations take up projects for no higher reasons than that they are scared into it. Whatever their ear-to-the-ground, fear-inspired reconnoitering leads them to believe – or fear – the world expects them to do, they will be doing come next Monday morning with all kinds of trumped-up zeal and show of godliness. The pressure of public opinion calls these prophets, not the voice of Jehovah.

The true church has never sounded out public expectations before launching its crusades. Its leaders heard from God and went ahead wholly independent of popular support or the lack of it. They knew their Lord’s will and did it, and their people followed them – sometimes to triumph, but more often to insults and public persecution – and their sufficient reward was the satisfaction of being right in a wrong world.

Another characteristic of the true prophet has been love. The free man who has learned to hear God’s voice and dared to obey it has felt the moral burden that broke the hearts of the Old Testament prophets, crushed the soul of our Lord Jesus Christ, and wrung streams of tears from the eyes of the apostles.

The free man has never been a religious tyrant, nor has he sought to lord it over God’s heritage. It is fear and lack of self-assurance that has led men to try to bring others under their feet. They have had some interest to protect, some position to secure, so they have demanded subjection from their followers as a guarantee of their own safety. But the free man – never. He has nothing to protect, no ambition to pursue and no enemy to fear. For that reason he is completely careless of his standing among men. If they follow him – well and good. If not, he loses nothing that he holds dear. But whether he is accepted or rejected, he will go on loving his people with sincere devotion, and only death can silence his tender intercession for them.

Yes, if evangelical Christianity is to stay alive, it must have men again – the right kind of men. It must repudiate the weaklings who dare not speak out, and it must seek in prayer and much humility the coming again of men of the stuff of which prophets and martyrs are made. God will hear the cries of His people as He heard the cries of Israel in Egypt, and He will send deliverance by sending deliverers. It is His way.

And when the deliverers come – reformers, revivalists, prophets – they will be men of God and men of courage. They will have God on their side because they are careful to stay on God’s side. They will be co-workers with Christ and instruments in the hands of the Holy Spirit. Such men will be baptized with the Spirit indeed and through their labors He will baptize others and send the long-delayed revival.

SOURCE: “This World: Playground or Battleground?”, Chapter 7

The ONE GOD USES 

Samuel Logan Brengle

A while ago I was talking with a Christian merchant who expressed a great and important truth. He said:

“People are crying to God to use them, but He cannot. They are not given up to Him; they are not humble and teachable and holy. There are plenty of people who come to me and want work in my store, but I cannot use them; they are not fit for my work. When I must have someone, I have to go and advertise, and sometimes spend days in trying to find a man who will fit into the place I want him for, and then I have to try him and prove him to know whether he will suit me or not.”

The fact is, God is using everybody that He can, and using them to the full extent of their fitness for His service. So, instead of praying so much to be used, people should search themselves to know whether they are usable.

God cannot use anybody and everybody who comes along any more than the merchant could. It is only those who are “sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Tim. ii. 21) that He can bless with great usefulness.

God wants men and women, and He is hunting for them everywhere; but, like the merchant, He has to pass by hundreds before He finds the right individuals. The Bible says: “The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew Himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward Him” (2 Chron. xvi. 9).

Oh, how God wants to use you! But before you ask Him again to do so, see to it that your heart is “perfect toward Him.” Then you may depend upon it that God will show Himself strong in your behalf. Glory to His dear, dear name!

When God searches for a man to work in His vineyard He does not ask, “Has he great natural abilities? Is he thoroughly educated? Is he a fine singer? Is he eloquent in prayer? Can he talk much?”

But, rather, He asks, “Is his heart perfect toward Me? Is he holy? Does he love much? Is he willing to walk by faith, and not by sight? Does he love Me so much and has he such childlike confidence in My love for him that he can trust Me to use him when he doesn’t see any sign that I am using him? Will he be weary and faint when I correct him and try to fit him for greater usefulness? Or will he, like Job, cry out, ‘Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him’? (Job xiii. 15). Does he search My word, and ‘meditate therein day and night,’ in order to ‘do according to all that is written therein’? (Joshua i. . Does he wait on Me for My counsel and seek in everything to be led by My Spirit? Or is he stubborn and self-willed, like the horse and the mule, which have to be held in with bit and bridle (Ps. xxxii. 9), so that I cannot ‘guide him with Mine eye’? (Ps. xxxii. . Is he a man-pleaser and a time-server, or is he willing to wait for his reward, and does he seek solely for ‘the honour that cometh from God only’? Does he ‘preach the word’ and is he ‘instant in season, out of season’? (2 Tim. iv. 2). Is he meek and lowly in heart and humble?”

When God finds such a man, He will use him. God and that man will have such a friendly understanding with each other, and such mutual sympathy and love and confidence that they will at once become “workers together “(2 Cor. vi. 1).

Paul was such a man, and the more they whipped him and stoned him and tried to rid the earth of him, the more God used him. At last they shut him up in prison, but Paul declared with unshaken faith, “I suffer trouble as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound” (2 Tim. ii. 9); and so he spoke God’s word, and neither devils nor men could put shackles on it, but it pierced right through the prison walls, and flew across oceans and continents and down through the long centuries, bearing the glorious tidings of the blessed Gospel; overthrowing thrones and kingdoms and powers of evil, and everywhere bringing light and comfort and salvation to dark, troubled, sinful hearts. Though more than eighteen hundred years have passed since they cut off Paul’s head and thought they had done with him for ever, yet his usefulness increases and his mighty words and works are today bearing such fruit to the good of men and the glory of God as passes the comprehension of an archangel.

Oh, how surprised Paul will be when he receives his final reward at the general judgment day, and enters into possession of all the treasures he has laid up in Heaven and the everlasting inheritance prepared for him!

Poor, troubled soul, cheer up! Be of good courage! You think you are useless, but you do not know. Trust God!

Paul saw dark days. He wrote to Timothy one day and said, “This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me” (2 Tim. i. 15). Study his life in the Acts and the Epistles, and see what conflicts and discouragements he had, and take courage!

Jesus said, “He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive …” (John vii. 38, 39).

See to it that you are a believer. See to it that you are “filled with the Spirit,” and Jesus will see to it that out of your life shall flow rivers of holy influence and power to bless the world; and you, too, will be surprised, at the reckoning day, to behold the vastness of your reward as compared with the littleness of your sacrifices and your work.

How God Prepares a True Minister

When God wants to drill a man,
And thrill a man,
And skill a man
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part;

When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways!

How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!
How He hammers him and hurts him,
And with mighty blows converts him

Into trial shapes of clay which
Only God understands;
While his tortured heart is crying
And he lifts beseeching hands!
How He bends but never breaks
When his good He undertakes;
How He uses whom He chooses,
And which every purpose fuses him;
By every act induces him
To try His splendor out-
God knows what He’s about.

Anonymous

 

 

A. W. Tozer  — It’s doubtful that God can use any man greatly until he’s hurt him deeply. 

 Well-Intentioned Dragons by Marshall Shelley pg 80

Destroy or Build?

By DiscerningTruth.com

“Why so much negativity, so much attacking?” is often the cry of those who read or hear messages concerning God’s Kingdom and His church.  Those messages which attack people, and demean them, are indeed in error.  It is not people but systems and altars that God wants destroyed.  Sometimes a person or group so represents a system, that it may appear that the group or person is being attacked.  Paul confronted Peter in Galatians and held him accountable and publicly chastised him and put his error on display and for thousands of years, we have read of that confrontation.  But, Paul stood against Peter only to the extent that he endorse error.  So, it should be with our messages of exposure.

As the above verse, Jeremiah 1:10,  points out, God requires some things to be pulled down, exposed, and destroyed so that the proper thing can be built and planted.  Often in the old testament a king or prophet would tear down the altars of Baal before building altars to God. God demands that the false be clearly exposed and removed.  God uses the imagery of destruction to describe the work He does through His word –

 Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?  Jer 23:29 

It is apparent that God does require destruction but by His word, not words or plans originating out of our hatred or disposition.  The goal is never destruction, but the replacement that is to take place.  The one who promotes destruction for destruction’s sake, is not sent by God.

We see that the necessity of destruction and then building is core to the gospel.  The gospel necessitates that men turn away from and destroy old ways (things they built their lives upon) and have the Spirit replace them with new ways.  The Christian enters the new life by becoming dead in Christ.  This also explains why God’s truth and messengers are so vehemently attacked.  No one wants the foundations that they base their lives upon to be dashed to pieces.  Their retaliation on God’s spokesmen should cause those spokesmen to fall before God for examination of their heart to make sure that the word they speak is solely God’s word and command and not tainted with their own thoughts.

Those attacking ungodly systems and its altars and false doctrines and wicked ways must never apologize nor abate there zeal in doing so.  For  these things have the prophets and apostles been persecuted and killed from the beginning.  However,  The attack was never personal though it often appeared so when men represented the falseness, itself.  Persons who cling to and defend false systems will become co-joined victims with that which they defend and refuse to forsake.

And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.
Isaiah 58:12 
See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant
Jeremiah 1:10  .
Thus says the Lord: “Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask
for the ancient paths, where the good way lies; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls.”
But they said, “We will not walk in it.”
Jeremiah 6:16

 

 

The Simplicity of Revival

The answers and ways in Christianity are always simple.  Those simple answers and ways are also impossible (by design).  God has made them impossible so that all may rely alone on the Spirit to accomplish His simplicity.  From the work of salvation to the perfecting of each saint, God needs to be in total control for such things to be accomplished.  This includes the way of revival.

Beware of those who have elaborate plans for revival.  There are some who may know of valid hindrances to revival or ways by which God had previously orchestrated it.. But if those messages do not point to walking after the Spirit in the current situation, then they are not of God.  Certainly there are components to walking after the Spirit (the bible is full of them) but we must avoid the danger of “missing the forest for the trees” (so focused on the individual “ways” that we lose sight of the goal).

All of the “problems” in the church and individual Christians would be eliminated if we each would always walk in the Spirit and understand aright what that looks like, how it operates, and its costs.  All the advice and commands and injunctions in the new testament can be fullfilled by any who walk after the Spirit. All indictments against preachers and the church are solved when the church walks in the Spirit.

 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.  Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?  1 John 5:4,5
That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  Romans 8:4
For this purpose, God sent Jesus to deliver us from the power of darkness has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:  Colossians 1:13 .
 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: Ephesians 5:8
 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.   That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.   For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.  Romans 8:1-5

 

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. Galatians 5:16

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Galatians 5:25

The Spirit continually glorifies Jesus Christ, the Spirit continually leads us in righteousness, the Spirit provides access to all that Christ has made available to us through His victorius death and resurrection.  There is no division between being in Christ and being filled with the Spirit.

Walking in the Spirit or being filled with the Spirit is not meant to be a mere positional reality, but a reality which captivates a life and provides a consistent victory as the flesh lusts against the Spirit.  It is life itself and if not our reality it will incur inconsistent results for us and for His kingdom and will be a counterfeit of His reality.

[God] also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.  2 Corinthians 3:6

This is God’s explanation for the lack of life in His church.  It is not that Life has not been freely given by God, it is that ministers are not ministerng by the Spirit (and the natural man loves to have it so).

I do not think it is that Christians do not want to live and walk in the Spirit, it is that they do not want to “come out from among them and be separate” .  They want it both ways and churches are telling them they can have it both ways.

  Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 2 Cor 6:17

 

For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1 John 2:16

With the present church messages preached that mix the ways of the world into kingdom ways,  the ways of the world, psychology, sociology, “common sense”, marketing, and are more spoken of than the pure things of the kingdom.  Christianity is only mirroring what is presently preached, and it would be far worse if the Spirit were not raising up a standard against those heretical mixtures.

The problem of neglect in walking after the Spirit can be solved.  There are reasons that undergird the inability to walk after the Spirit.

Lack of belief (faith) in what God has said.  Because the world, the flesh, the devil are too much with us and because we identify who we are with our former Adam, we doubt God because it conflicts with our experience.  We put more credence in our feelings, circumstances, and experience than we do what God says.  We have more regard for the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil than for the leading of the Spirit (as most all sermons quickly demonstrate).  We have disregarded the necessary truths of Proverbs 3:3-7.    Such corrupt teachings have displaced the rule of faith in modern christianity. with a demonic perversion of truth and holiness.

Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:  So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.  Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.   Proverbs 3:3-7

It would do well for all of us to revisit Abraham, the father of faith,  who believed in the God who quickens the dead, and calls those things which be not as though they were.  Although his circumstances and realities were totally hopeless, he believed in the hope that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which God had spoken,” So shall thy seed be”.  He considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb:  He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God.  He  was fully persuaded that, what he had promised, God was able also to perform.  That is the only valid picture of faith that God blesses.  How far from that standard we have strayed!

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.  Hebrews 11:6

A paraphase of that would read: If you won’t believe God, how can you please Him?

Faith recognizes God’s holiness, omnipotence, sovereignty, and goodness.

The reason why we do not have the faith of Abraham is that we do not love God with all our hearts, minds, and strength.  We do not come to Him as we should, nor do we believe His self revelation, nor do we diligently seek Him.  We are content to know facts about Him at a distance.  To categorize, box in, and quantify, the One who cannot be categorized, boxed in, or quantified.

Recovery must begin there: with faith.  We must believe what God says about Himself and His kingdom and His will and His desires.  If we falter at any point, we weaken the whole.  Fortunately, hearing God’s word, in and of itself, produces faith (Romans 10:17).  But faith is always tested and we are always given the choice to believe God or our circumstances, our common sense, or our viewpoints. Often,  when we do make an attempt to believe, all is filtered through our own understanding and agendas and those filters must be rejected and bow before what God has said.

If man would only believe the verses quoted on this page, Christianity would again turn the world upside down.

The degree and quality of our faith in what God has said and is saying determines the degree to which we walk in the Spirit.  Unbelief toward the things of God is the only reason for an inconsistent Spiritual walk.  So, the “fix” to everything is believing God who quickens the dead, and calls those things which be not as though they were as He has revealed Himself in scripture.  That is the only realm in which He works, the only place He is found.

Whenever an aspect of our experience in life does not measure up to what God has said it should, we must diligently seek out where our belief has diverged from what He has said, for that is where the problem lies.  Unfortunately, the truths of God and His Kingdom have been so mixed with the natural that it takes diligent prayer and searching and good teaching to “unlearn” what has been taught.  For those that desire truth at any expense, the Holy Spirit will guide them into all truth (John 7:17; John 14:26; 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:10, 11, 12 ) as it fits together properly in the context of the whole of scripture.