Feel-Good Gospel

27 02 2007

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.”
(2 Timothy 4:3,4)

The true gospel is a call to self-denial. It is not a call to self-fulfillment. And that puts it in opposition to the contemporary evangelical gospel, where ministers view Jesus as a utilitarian genie. You rub the lamp, and He jumps out and says you have whatever you want; you give Him your list and He delivers…

I reviewed that book [Robert Schuller’s, Self-Esteem: The New Reformation, Word, 1982] for a national magazine. I thought Schuller’s view was a turning point, literally, as the title says, an attempt to promote a new reformation. It was an effort to replace the biblical gospel with a new gospel. And it worked.

In that book, Robert Schuller attacked the Protestant Reformation. Calling for a new reformation he wrote: “It is precisely at this point that classical theology has erred in its insistence that theology be ‘God-centered’ and not ‘man-centered'”

To define man-centered theology (an oxymoron), he wrote further, “This master plan of God is designed around the deepest need of human beings—self-dignity, self-respect, self-worth and self-esteem.” For Schuller, the pearl of great price is self-respect and self-esteem…

It’s a kind of quasi-Christian narcissism, or self-love…“Dangerous times will come for men will become lovers of themselves” (2 Timothy 3:1,2)

–John MacArthur
Hard To Believe, pp2-4





Quit (And Ask)

24 02 2007

“You do not have because you do not ask.”
(James 4:2)

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Sometimes you will hear people stand up in a meeting, not so frequently perhaps in these days as in former days, and say, “I am trying to serve God in my poor, weak way.” Well, if you are trying to serve God in your poor, weak way, quit it! Your duty is to serve God in His strong, triumphant way. But you say, “I have no natural ability.” Then get some supernatural ability.

The religion of Jesus Christ is a supernatural religion from start to finish, an we should live our lives in supernatural power, the power of God through Jesus Christ; and we should perform our service with supernatural power, the power of God ministered by the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit is promised to every believer in order that he may obtain the supernatural gifts which qualify him for the particular service to which God calls him (1 Corinthians 12:11). It is ours to have the power of God if we will only seek it by prayer in any and every line of service to which God calls us.

–R.A. Torrey (successor to D.L. Moody, Moody Memorial Church, Chicago)
Ask? You Have Not Because You Ask Not





Standing Close To The Flame

22 02 2007

“For our God is a consuming fire.”
(Hebrews 12:29)

burns_for_you.jpgThere comes a time in the life of faith when Jesus must die. For many people, the Christ who dies is an amalgam of their fantasies and our culture’s fancies. In our time, that often means this: Jesus is the nicest person we can imagine. He is a kindergarten teacher of humanity that is as vulnerable as a group of five-year-olds. So, of course, He does not raise His voice. He affirms and re-affirms our fragile self-esteem…

…This Jesus puzzles us, of course. He seems so nice; we can’t imagine why He doesn’t answer all our prayers or why He allows evil to run free. Consequently, we have our doubts, like everyone else in this age, wondering how a congenial Lord can be, well, so inattentive. Maybe He’s not really in charge after all. Then suddenly our faith is bolsetered by an inspirational best-seller about the best life of the purpose-driven life or the border-expanding life, and we’re ready to be patient with Jesus a little longer—as long as He keeps us feeling good about ourselves and optimistic about the tomorrow…

…Our culture would have us put our faith in a Jesus who is a mere bed of carnations. Interesting. Pretty. He adds color and fragrance to life and little more…The vision of the true Jesus compels reverence, silence and, yes, fear.

…We should be afraid…But we are nonetheless drawn near to the very thing that can hasten our death if we are not careful. We are sane to be afraid. And we would be fools not to draw closer.

–Mark Galli
Jesus, Mean and Wild: The Unexpected Love of an Untamable God, pp175-9





Heartsick

21 02 2007

“Seeing the people, he felt compassion for them…”
(Matthew 9:36)

It is a common expression in some Christian quarters to say, ‘I want to have the heart of God.’ The common meaning is, ‘I want to feel the love and compassion God has for all people.’ But to have the heart of God—if we really want that—means to feel the brokenness of God as He looks at His creation.

–Mark Galli
Jesus, Mean and Wild: The Unexpected Love of an Untamable God, p172





On Demand God

20 02 2007

“Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man…”
(Luke 5:8)

Humility also requires that we recognize the childish pride hidden in our breasts when we demand God’s presence…When after the miracle of the catch of fish, Peter recognizes who Jesus is, he says, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man” (see Luke 5:1-11). When the centurion needs Jesus to heal his servant, he entreats Him not to come into his home because he is unworthy…For such people, to be in the presence of God was not a right but a privilege…

…We indeed have a relationship with God but that relationship cannot deepen—we cannot know God’s presence—if we treat Him as an equal or, even worse, as a servant of our every spiritual whim who must be available to us on demand.

The relationship may be mutual, but it needs to be grounded in the reality of who is relating to whom. When we get that wrong, no wonder we experience God’s absence, for we are no longer seeking after the true God—the holy and glorious Creator of heaven and earth—but a mirror of our spiritual egos. We are doing nothing more than shouting into the empty vacuum of the self, and we are only hearing the echo of our own whiny voice.

–Mark Galli
Jesus, Mean and Wild: The Unexpected Love of an Untamable God, pp169-70





Refuge

19 02 2007

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Getting Pushy With God

19 02 2007

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
(James 4:8)

If we could mechanically draw Him into an encounter, force Him to meet us, simply because we have chosen this moment to meet Him, there would be no relationship and no encounter. We can do that with an image, with the imagination, or with the various idols we can put in front of us instead of God; we can do nothing of the sort with the living God, any more than we can do it with a living person. A relationship must begin and develop in mutual freedom.

If you look at the relationship in terms of mutual relationship, you will see that God could complain a great deal more than we about Him. We complain that He does not make Himself present to us for the few minutes we reserve for Him, but what about those twenty-three and a half hours during which God may be knocking at our door and we answer ‘I am busy, I am sorry’ or when we do not answer at all because we do not even hear the knock at the door of our heart, of our minds, of our conscience, of our life.”

–Anthony Bloom
Beginning to Pray, p29