Dan’s Discourse

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The Prodigal Son – The Sacrifice for the Repentant Man

20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.”

Luke 15:19-24

The parable of the prodigal son is one that is very well-known, and consequently is used very often by those standing at the pulpit today to warn against the perils of greed and selfishness. It speaks very clearly about what happens to those that turn away from a loving and generous Father, and seek to buy up for themselves all that this fallen world has to offer; essentially, that they will eventually find themselves bereft of all the things that they once sought after (friends, prestige, money, power, etc.), end up on the bottom of the heap, and have absolutely no-one else to blame but themselves and their own self-interest.

However, this is not the true meaning of this passage; at least, it isn’t the entire story. True, we will face the consequences of our actions should we be foolish enough to want to pursue the lusts of the flesh over residing under the care, protection, provision and blessing of our Heavenly Father, who knows our needs before we even know ourselves. And yes, we also eventually come to the conclusion that we are far better off with our Father than without, and we are all welcomed back into out Father’s embrace with joy and celebration by the heavenlies when we repent and ask for forgiveness for our stupidity. But this isn’t all Jesus’ parable has to offer in terms of teaching.

If you look closely at Scripture, you will find constant references to the penalty for sin: death. You will also find that, because the people in Scripture were unable to pay this penalty themselves, they had to have another way of atoning for the sin that God is unable to bear in His holy Presence. God provided them with a solution; the sacrifices of old, the burnt offerings presented to God for the remission of the sins of the people. This was so all throughout the Old Testament, right up until Jesus came into the world. In fact, these sacrifices persisted until the Final Sacrifice was made to atone for all sin; past present, and until the Last Day. Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross paid the price of blood that was simply too much for us puny humans to be able to pay and still remain pure before a Holy God.

The shedding of blood is a very solemn thing throughout the Bible. It demonstrates the debt that all men must pay to answer for sin, and yet were unable to. It is also cause for celebration, just as it was in the parable. It shows that God has forgotten our sins; that we have been washed anew by the shedding of blood and have been welcomed back into the centre of God’s holy Presence – pure, cleansed, and redeemed.

This is what is revealed in the parable of the Prodigal. The image of the overjoyed father running to meet his son (which no rich, self-respecting landowner would have been caught dead doing in those times), heedless of the filthy, stinking vagabond his child had become because of his sin, is one of our Beloved Father welcoming us back into His house after having asked for forgiveness. The robe, ring and sandals all signify the return of the son to his place as a son, and demonstrate the all-encompassing compassion and forgiveness of our Father in Heaven accepting us as His children after we repent and turn away from our wrongdoing.

Make no mistake; the son had to realise that he was the cause of his own misery, and that he had sinned in walking away from his father, and be willing to ask for forgiveness without any expectation of receiving anything in return, to have any chance of being welcomed back into his father’s house. We cannot simply roll around in the muck of the world and then just expect to be able to waltz right back into God’s house without any consequences.

The symbol of the killing of the fatted calf is the most important. It signifies the shedding of blood for the sins of the son, and in so doing cleansing him of his error and allowing him to be able to stand in his father’s presence without shame or guilt of his previous mistakes. And so it is for us and the shedding of Jesus’ blood, the Blood of the Spotless Lamb of God, as payment for our sins. There was great celebration in the father’s house when his son returned to him, once dead, now alive; once lost, now found. Again, this is the same for us also. Because the blood of the Lamb was spilt on our behalf, we can now turn away from our sins and repent, be cleansed by Jesus’ blood, and return to the Presence of the LORD our God with great joy and happiness.

We have had our fleshly selves put to death with all sin, and have been brought alive, new creations, into the embrace of the Lord. We were once lost, swallowed up by the darkness of this fallen world, and are now found by the Light of the World, who was offered up on our behalf so that we might live.

Praise be to our Almighty Lord in Heaven!

Dan Brady

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Nick’s Testimony

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My name is Nick Brady and i have been alive for 22 years. I came to Christ when i was 17, growing up in a christian home. Giving your life to Christ at that age was pretty hard for me as i was in my second last year of high school. I know it shouldn’t be hard but let me explain.

One of those pesky teenage traits was to have everyone like you (haha I’m still dealing with that one). So being courageous in my faith was one of those things that went to the back of my head as soon as i went through the school gate. However, that didn’t mean I wasn’t put into situations where I had a feeling deep down to let Christ be heard.

About halfway through my senior I had the opportunity to go on a geography excursion to Fraser Island in North Queensland. The week before I mentioned to my parents that I thought that God had been telling me to take my bible along. Just that, not preach my heart out, not give it to one of the 15 people going along, just take it along. I should probably mention by this point that I had been both baptised in water and the Holy Spirit. So I made the decision to take it along. Everything went well the first night, but on the second night (of the 5 days that we were there) I felt the urge to get out my bible and read it. I did this by myself, my teacher made some comment on how it was good that I was doing so. Still to this day I don’t know why he made those comments as he wasn’t , from what I could tell, a Christian.

Anyway that all went down, and then on the next night the Spirit of God really started to get things moving. I had decided that I wasn’t going to go off by myself and read on my own. That night I sat in our cabin and read my bible. There was about 6 guys all in the cabin and for the time that I was reading they came in and out. Once the lights out call had been given everyone settled down. Now that I look back I’m pretty sure we pushed the lights out a further hour or so. I’ll tell you why. A couple of the guys noticed that I was reading and asked what it was that I was reading. I told them that it was the bible, and then things kicked off from there. I had all sorts of questions flung at me. What do you believe? Why do you read it? You don’t really believe that do you? Then the next night the girls who made up the rest of the group ask me to read to them. Every student that was on that camp heard the word of God. A rather strange fact was that the people who owned that camp that we stayed at their main land address was 666. Creepy right!

So for the rest year twelve I didn’t have any other major opportunities to sharing of my faith. Questions where asked in both of the history classes I attended, when religion was the main topic of conversation. High school is always about fitting in, and for me that was paramount until I made the decision to follow my faith. I think by the time it came to graduation I had a better understanding of who I was in the world. I remember clearly one of my friends said to my once ” You are different Nick! Not a bad different but a good different”. I knew what he was talking about but he didn’t. He had picked up on something about me and that meant a lot, that people could see the difference.

After high school came a stint in Uni where I found that I was not cut out for all the demanding academic work. Later I fell into a job at a large department store.  Since starting full time work I have had multiple incidences where my faith has been discussed. Some of the older people have questioned it more sceptically then the younger people I have talked to. I have had opportunity to pray for a couple of people and also offered to pray others who are hurt. My position in the store is managing the stock replenishment team and that affords me the opportunity to talk to multiple people throughout the store. I pray often for the chance to talk to them about my faith, I doesn’t happen a lot but when it does I really relish the chance to talk to them about my faith.

So to sum everything up into a nice neat package I have chosen to give my life to the Lord, I have made mistakes but who hasn’t. That is what the power of the cross is for. My journey hasn’t been long but that doesn’t matter. Everyone is different.  I think what makes a big difference in the lives of young Christians is the ability to recognise when you have sinned, whether it be from the Lord through the Holy Spirit, through parents and or friends. It is like a radio, where you go to tune to a station, it takes time but when you finally get the station you can hear it loud and clear. It is also not just that ability to recognise but also humbling yourself before the Lord and going about the right way to cleanse yourself before a God that can not look upon sin. I can testify to the importance of this as I feel that through my mistakes and Cross bound redemption I am hearing more clearly from the Lord. That channel is becoming clearer and clearer.

 

No More Sucker Punches

jo.._peooooo Most would know what a sucker punch is but for clarity I will insert an excerpt from a website on self defence which describes it.

As the name implies, the sucker-punch, also known as the ‘king-hit’, relies on the attacker’s ability to dupe his victim into a false sense of security, lowering their fight-awareness. The practised thug will do this through engaging the victim’s mind with words or movement, meanwhile closing the distance and getting into a good striking position, to then deliver one — and only one — almighty punch. This punch is delivered with full speed and full power to do one thing and one thing only: knock out the victim. In such situations, there is no fight. There is only an ambush, brutality and violence. There is not a loser as such, only a victi

Source: (click to link) While the above paragraph is about physical punches, I want to talk about what happens when you get an emotional or psychological sucker punch. The pain is very similar I believe. I also am convinced that you can get sucker punched in the heart and gut and you can feel the effect of these in the midriff area around or just below the stomach, the same place that you get ‘gut feelings’. Many of us have carried these punches to our hearts all our lives. The result of this kind of emotional bruising is wide spread. Every kind of addiction and obsession can be traced, I believe, to the heart condition of mankind. A hardness of heart can ensure which creates angry hostile people and a world where kindness has become very uncommon. You can get all kinds of emotional sucker punches and they are exactly like the physical kind. You are taken unawares because you believe or trust in the person who attacks you. You have no idea that somebody actually is a ‘practised thug’ as they turn on the charm and convince you that they are the good guy. Alternately, a sucker punch can come from long time friends or trusted authority figures. Often sucker punches come from somebody who you have no reason to believe would betray or hurt you. As the old T.V. ad used to say ‘one punch can kill’. You can be sent flying by just one well placed hit to the heart, say the infidelity of a partner, that you had never suspected. Imagine if you will a life of sucker punches. Many of us have lived them. What happens to your heart and your soul? They become calloused and distrustful. Why should you trust the world when it has rained only continual cursing and hostility down upon you. This, I believe, is the situation in which many find themselves. I also believe that this is why so many have lamented the fact that the world has become increasingly devoid of courtesy and consideration for others. What a couple of generations ago would have been a world of comparable kindness of strangers is now a world where aggression and rudeness are the order of the day. I want to briefly mention here that there are in fact people who are deeply character disordered and actually enjoy giving sucker punches. Psychologists call them ‘malignant narcissists’ or ‘psychopaths’ and claim these ones are often the criminal types who get away with all kinds of rule breaking because they think the rules don’t apply to them. While this may be some kind of comfort to those who are not character disordered, it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with them. And the punches to the heart do not heal any quicker simply by understanding that there are dangerous predatory types who are simply waiting for the unsuspecting to take their bait. Scripture tells us what is happening and in fact prophesied that this would happen two thousand years ago.

3 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

(2 Timothy 3) While it is important to recognise what is going on in our world, it is far more important to know how to deal with the aching void within which results from trying to deal with the pain and shame of the sucker punch. For here is the problem. We are not only dealing with other people’s sin against us, we are dealing with the shame of being victims of other people’s sin. You would think that there is no shame in being a victim, but ask anyone who has been abused physically or sexually and they will tell you that they feel overwhelming shame. Human beings try anything and everything to fill the void. They fill their stomachs, they fill their minds and they fill their lives with activity. They empty their bank accounts, they empty their minds, they empty their lives of friends and family because their obsessive and self-destructive behaviour is too hard to live with. I have experienced this kind of shame. It is debilitating. But the flesh, which is temporal, will never be able to fill the void because as scripture tells us, the flesh is a bottomless pit of need. Solomon said it best.

The leech has two daughters— Give and Give! There are three things that are never satisfied, Four never say, “Enough!”: 16 The grave,[a] The barren womb, The earth that is not satisfied with water— And the fire never says, “Enough”

I would add that the flesh is never satisfied. If you make the flesh your master, it will drive you to hell. It will never be sated, it will never say ‘enough’, it will never leave you alone. Your only hope is to go to God. Scripture tells us that Jesus is the healer of the brokenhearted, as this is in fact the scriptural term for those who have been sucker-punched too many times. Your heart breaks, your spirit becomes sickened. Scripture also tells us that a man’s spirit bears him up in illness, but a broken spirit who can bear? (Proverbs 18:14) It also says that the Lord is near to the broken hearted and those of a contrite spirit he will hear.(Psalm 34:18) While this verse focuses on repentance, I believe it is also true of those who have been the victims of other’s violence.

“He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.”

(Psalm 147:3)

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,[a] To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed;

(Luke 4:18) The sucker-punch is the hallmark of those who have lived in this world for any length of time. I don’t believe there is a human being alive who has not had one of these at some point. The biggest problem is for those of us who have had too many of them. You can become ‘punch drunk’, to continue the metaphor.

  1. Showing signs of brain damage caused by repeated blows to the head. Used especially of a boxer.
  2. Behaving in a bewildered,confused, or dazed manner

(Free Dictionary) There is only one thing to sober you up in this situation, and that is the truth, the life and the way. One person can heal you, give you peace, give you direction and protect you from further punches and that person is Jesus Christ. If you come to Him and seek comfort and help from the Saviour, you will no longer be a sucker, and the hits, though perhaps still surprising, will no longer be delivered to an unsuspecting victim. You will be a prayer warrior, a child of God, in His keeping and hedged around behind and before by God’s own hand.

With love,

Steve and Anita

Can God Do This In Your Heart?

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The great assembly listened with close attention, particularly to a notedcharacter— “an old man, remarkable looking—; a dealer in rags would not have givenmore than sixpence for all the clothes he had on his person; he bore the marks and tokensof a confirmed drunkard.” Tremblingly, this aged brother gave his earnest testimony: —

“Gentlemen, I appear before you this day as a vile sinner. Many of you know me, for you have but to look at me and recognize the profligate of Broughshane; you know I was an old man hardened in sin; you know that I was a servant of the devil, and he led me by that instrument of his, the spirit of the barley. I brought my wife and family to beggary more than fifty years ago; in short, I defy the townland of Broughshane to produce my equal in profligacy, or any sin whatever; but gentlemen, I have seen Jesus! I was born again on last night week, and am therefore ‘a week old’ to day. My heavy and enormous sin is all gone, the Lord Jesus took it all away, and I stand before you this day not as a pattern of profligacy, but a monument of the perfect grace of God. “I stand here to tell you that God’s work on Calvary is “perfect. Yes, I have proved it His work is perfect. He is not like an architect who makes a drawing of a building, and then takes out this line or that, or alters “the whole, and even while the building is going up makes some further change. No, but God drew out the plan of salvation, and it was complete, and He carried it out with His blessed Son Jesus, and it is all perfect, for had it not been so, it would not have been capable of reaching the depth of iniquity of myself, the profligate of Broughshane.”

From “The Ulster Revival of 1859” by William H Harding.

Read the rest of this remarkable account here.

Read it and weep…..we did.  Is it possible for God to do such a work in Brisbane?  In your suburb?  In your heart?

We believe it is. God is doing a work in us and in our family. Praise Him!

We pray for your own relationship with Jesus to be revived.

In love,

 

Steve and Anita

Improving The Silence

Do not speak unless you can improve the silence!
Do not speak unless you can improve the silence!

There is a proverb which says ‘Do not speak unless you can improve the silence”. On the internet that proverb should probably read, ‘do not comment unless you can add to the conversation’, or more pertinently, ‘do not write unless you have something edifying to say’.

I am not somebody who is overly impressed with intellect especially when it is used for bludgeoning others with words which nobody uses in general conversation for the sole purpose of magnifying oneself. I once had a conversation with a college grammar teacher. He espoused the belief that he should be allowed to communicate in his own way using his own vocabulary regardless of who he was talking to. To do anything else meant he was somehow being less than himself. I argued that there was no point in using words which the other party did not understand. What would ensue would either be a fake conversation where the other party pretended to know what you meant out of fear of being seen as ignorant, or you would spend all your time answering the question.. what? It all seems ridiculously unnecessary. A really clever person will speak in a way which is easily and clearly understood. A really clever person who also has a well developed character will be able to put aside their superior intellect and confer with their fellow human beings on the level of the lowest common denominator and not mind at all. It does not make you a lesser being to recognise another’s level of communication and respond to it. In fact it makes you a lesser being to persist in using big words simply because you put more stake in impressing others. Of what use is it to be an impressive jack-ass? People will see you for who you are in the end, and it will be your lack of character which marks you out not your vocabulary.

Yet more often than not on the internet I see those who are using their intellect as a weapon. What is worse, they often claim to be Christian. I can see how the religious would use their intellects to bludgeon others into submission since religion is all about appearances and what seems to be superior. Genuine relationship with Jesus Christ however causes us to become humble, teachable, loving and meek. We do not use our intellects or any other human strengths we possess to cause other brothers and sisters to feel lesser than ourselves. To do so would be to quench the Holy Spirit whose job it is to guide and teach us the ways of Christ himself. Jesus did not engage with the Pharisees, those pillars of intellectualism, in order to prove a point. Often his words to them were simple and direct and addressed the real issues rather than the ones that they wanted to discuss. He was honest and incisive in His responses to their continual badgering and they often went away amazed at His wisdom or simply shut their mouths as there was nothing more to say. I would also venture to suggest that shutting the mouths of the Pharisees had more to do with opposing the forces of darkness which operated through them than any superior argument on Jesus’ behalf. He did not have to bandy words with them, He was not called to discuss politics with the devil. He came to set the captives free, and if anyone was captive to their laws and their culture and also their own flesh, it was the Pharisees.

Paul the apostle likewise did not use his superior intellect to engage in pointless discussion. When he spoke, he did not refer back to his pedigree as a Pharisee of the Pharisees. He could easily have outwitted them all, but he didn’t. His words were inspired by the Holy Spirit and in many cases he spoke prophetically. Like Jesus before him, he was not interested in engaging with others simply for the point of wasting words. His communication was clear and direct and he pointed to Christ and the gospel he was charged to bring to all men.

Yet what do we see on the internet more often than not. We see men and women engaging in pointless and long drawn-out arguments discussing issues which inevitably devolve into ad-hominem slanging matches. I have seen sensible and polite discussions as well, but often the point of these discussions is to display one’s ability to debate theological issues or even political issues in the church. I have yet to see a great deal of inspiration in these discussions, it is as the saying goes a case of more heat than light.

A man of character and integrity will communicate in a way which enlightens and inspires others. Yet in a Christian, it is not even our character which is supposed to be enriching our lives. It is the Holy Spirit who works in and through us to open the eyes of the blind and be the light which shines out in the darkness. It is His thoughts and His ways that we follow and obey. It is His words which we are meant to speak and His directions that we both give and live by.

“Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips.”

(Psalm 141:3 NKJV)

Scripture is full of instruction about our words and our tongue, and it appears that for all of us, keeping our mouths is one of the most difficult things a man can do. Another passage in James tells us:

“See how great a forest a little fire kindles! 6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity. The tongue is so set among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire by hell. 7 For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and creature of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by mankind. 8 But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”

(James 3:2-11 NKJV)

And whenever we write comments or blog posts on the internet we are speaking albeit through our fingers. There is nevertheless the same intent – to communicate. Whether we speak with our mouths or our keyboards, we are using words and this is the point Scripture makes. God wants our communication to be holy as He is holy. How many blog posts, including our own, have you read lately which illustrates this. I can certainly not claim to be speaking God’s words every time I write, yet I strive to do so, otherwise, as a Christian, there is really no point in my writing at all.

This blog is a ministry to the body of Christ and a testimony to all of the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We want to preach the gospel and point the way to God our maker and Saviour and to bring hope and joy as we communicate. We want to be able to use the gifts the Holy Spirit has given us to edify, lift up and to help others. Surely this is the desire of every member of the Body. The only conclusion when I see posts and comments which are testament only to the flesh not the Spirit is that the words are spoken carelessly and without forethought, or that these ones though they may see the Kingdom of God have not yet entered into it. Another reason for these communications is that these are ones in whom the renewing of the mind which Paul spoke of on Romans 12:2 has not yet taken hold. There is a great deal of immaturity in the body of Christ which needs to be remedied by a determined effort to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. We are not working towards salvation, but we are working it out. Meaning that that which we have we are using and increasing. We who are saved are becoming more mature and more of our hearts and minds are being sanctified. Therefore on a blog if not anywhere else on the internet there should be a progressive work being seen by all. Our characters and our lives are visible here in our words as they are in our face to face encounters. We can’t pretend or hide behind a façade because the Holy Spirit will give other believers discernment and our sins will be seen for what they are. We are to fellowship with one another in the light as He is in the light and speak and write as He would.

 

Kind thoughts,

Anita

 

 

 

 

The Trap of The Seeker Sensitive Movement

Soul Food MGD©

Our beliefs shape our character and inform our actions. If we believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is our Saviour, that God will judge us and that the Holy Spirit empowers and guides us, then we will be able to walk in faith and boldness in the world and preach the gospel to all who need to hear it. This gospel is a powerful thing, it is the only thing by which we can be saved. Paul tells us in Romans that we are saved by faith and faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word. If the word is not preached with earnest and unwavering faith, then those who hear will simply mock us for being mealy-mouthed and foolish. We will be bound by fear and doubt and the enemy will be able to snatch away those who need to be saved.

It is my belief that the Seeker-Sensitive movement has caused Christians to waiver in their convictions out of fear that they may offend the unsaved. This is a wicked message straight from Hell designed to cause double-mindedness to creep into the body of Christ. Those who follow this theology tend to look not to the Word, the Holy Spirit or the Father, but to those around them to decide whether what they believe is acceptable or offensive. What happens is that a fear of God is replaced with a fear of man, and instead of living from the inside out, with our heart and spirit dictating our actions, we begin to live from the outside in, with our outward actions and words dictating our faith.

This is a short excerpt of a longer article on the theology of the Seeker-Sensitive teaching by Don Koenig http://www.thepropheticyears.com/comments/Seeker%20friendly.htm

“Most of those attracted by these authors and the seeker friendly purpose driven churches share a worldview where evil on earth is conquered through the good will of men. In the view of the dominionist leaders pushing the agenda the Church will bring in a paradise on earth before the return of Christ. Those in leadership who buy into this purpose driven seeker friendly church growth movement believe Christians need to make their churches so appealing that the whole world will want to be part of it. After all, Christianity promises a purpose driven life for everyone. Most of the leaders of this movement generally have or their methodology suggests a preterist or postmillennial theology. They teach or imply that the Church will make the world a paradise and only after that happens will Jesus come. Many leaders in this movement teach that all the negative prophetic judgment passages in Bible were fulfilled around 70 AD.”

“This seeker friendly purpose driven Church growth movement is founded on world corporation marketing strategies and pop psychology concepts that are known to be successful to reach large numbers of people. Most of the theology of Christianity that is less appealing to the world is shrouded so it will not be an offense to anyone. The theology of personal fulfilment that the movement presents on the surface appeals to broad groups of people. It attracts many in Pentecostalism that believe kingdom-now/dominion/reconstruction theology. The movement appeals to liberal Christians who believe that humanistic efforts will bring a paradise on earth. It appeals to Catholics because they have been taught a similar worldview by their church. It appeals to the holiness movements because the end conclusion of these movements is that the body of flesh can be brought into total submission before death. It even appeals to Messianic Jewish groups who wish to believe there is no future time of trouble coming to natural Israel. In addition, the movement appeals to secular humanists who believe we are all God’s children and there are no evil people but only misguided ones and it also appeals to those who have bought into the major pop psychology self-improvement concepts of our day. Therefore, it should be obvious why this movement attracts so many people.

 The movement in reality has become a clearinghouse for all who believe in the basic goodness of man, for those who think all paths lead to God, for those who hold a theology that does not take the prophetic scriptures in any real literal sense, for those who do not know the scriptures, for those who pick and choose words of scripture out of context to make them say what they want them to say, (thus, the popularity of paraphrased versions of the Bible) and for those who think sins of the flesh are really just sickness and addictions.”

The word of God is sharper than a two edged sword dividing between the soul and the spirit. It comes to bring life, but in the process must cause death to the flesh which is to be crucified with Christ. If we ourselves are not thus crucified in our own fear of men then we will not preach this same gospel to the lost. If we are preaching a message which is indeed not a message because it caters to the feelings of the lost and not the demands of a just and holy God then we would be better not to preach at all.

We attended a local Baptist church for a few weeks last year. We were interested to hear that they were going to preach a sermon about the new movie ‘Noah’ recently released last year by Paramount. We were a little concerned because the sermons were apparently over two Sunday nights and we were told that they would be looking at this movie and how it could be used to reach the lost. When we turned up, we discovered that this was not in fact what was being preached at all. We got a message which was all about not offending the lost with John 3:16 which we were told no Australian in this day and age would be prepared to hear. Instead we were told to save this message for some later point, but instead to introduce the lost to careful and thoughtful discussions about the themes of evil, the environment, and God’s way of doing things which was love and care and concern. Now on the face of it, this all seemed very nice and gentle and kind. Compare this however with Paul’s approach, and I would like to point out that Paul lived in an era when men’s wickedness was just as thoroughly vile as it was today but without the civilising influence of democratic governments, healthcare systems, the rule of law and law enforcement and generalised education. In short, people were ignorant, crude, impulsive, violent and bloodthirsty (remember the colosseum?). This was Paul’s approach:

‘We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness’ (1 Corinthians 1:23).

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! 10 Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.

(Galatians 1:8 NKJV)

Paul, regardless of whether the Jews or the Greeks (or any other gentile culture) were offended, preached Christ crucified. The gospel is offensive to the world and will always be until their eyes are opened by God himself. The miracle is that any of us are saved despite the in-built hindrances of our flesh and the wicked hatred of our souls by Satan himself. Yet, we were chosen from before the foundation of the world, the same time at which the lamb of God was slain. All of this has been pre-ordained by God, yet we have the right to choose Him. He knows his own, knows who will chose him and who won’t. I suppose those who preach the seeker-sensitive gospel will say that those who are going to be saved will be saved anyway and it won’t matter how. To those people I say, in that case what is wrong with preaching the gospel as we are charged to do by God since any other gospel is a false gospel and the preacher of which is accursed. I would rather preach the gospel and risk the ire of the unsaved and possibly die for it, than risk my own soul preaching a false gospel. Wouldn’t you?

The thing about this seeker-sensitive message is that it is a very logical one. It makes perfect sense to our human minds. It appeals to a large number of people, hence the rise of mega-churches based on this philosophy, and apparently appeals to a great number of Christians who don’t want to listen to scripture-based messages and would rather be entertained and amused and thus remain in their immaturity.

Of course we don’t want to offend anyone. Of course we don’t want to make people uncomfortable or enjoy watching them squirm under a message of fire and brimstone. But this is in fact a straw-man argument. We don’t have a choice here. The message of the gospel IS a message of judgement of the lost and salvation for the faithful. There is no other way around it. If you don’t preach the cross, Christ and him crucified then you are not preaching the gospel which will see men saved. It is THIS gospel which has the power to rescue the lost. NO OTHER.

Perhaps the real question here is not how the lost feel while they are in the process of being convicted of their sin (and how uncomfortable is that while it is happening?), but how we feel preaching the message.

I think it is far more important that we look at our own hearts and see if in reality it isn’t our own comfort levels which are being challenged.

I might add here that this particular church is a member of the Seeker Sensitive movement of the Willow Creek Association. When I enquired at the Willow Creek’s Queensland office, they happily provided me with a number of churches in my area which were members of the Association. All of them were Baptist.

I would like to finish with an excerpt of an excellent and prophetic message by David Wilkerson which was preached in March 1998 at an Assemblies of God Headquarters chapel service. The message was entitled “The Dangers of the Gospel of Accommodation”. I might remind everyone that David Wilkerson during his lifetime had one of the biggest chuches in New York, one of the biggest cities in the world. If a man who preaches the gospel and teaches his family and staff to do the same has a church grow this large, then the church growth gurus need to look closely at what is happening here. Unfortunately they won’t, because not only is their message ‘working’ (ie giving them larger churches), but they are enjoying reaping the benefits of not having to do the work involved in the prayer, fasting and weeping for the lost that David Wilkerson’s people have done. Unfortunately, God gives people what they want sometimes, in order to show the faithful that he is not in it.

This is the tail end of his message.

“The Scriptures state, ‘Behold, I lay in Zion a stumblingstone and rock of offense.’ Paul spoke of the offense of the Cross. This is the heart of God’s anger. We’re not called to the Cross but to go through the Cross to experience the same thing Jesus did, not only coming to the Cross but dying and going into the grave with Jesus Christ and then being raised from the dead to a newness of life. It’s cruel, pastor, to lead sinners to the Cross, tell them they are forgiven by faith, and then allow them to go back to their habits and lusts of the flesh, unchanged and still in the devil’s shackles. If the preaching of grace doesn’t have as its goal the producing of a walk of righteousness, then it’s another gospel, another Jesus. I listened in horror to a man, who attended one of the largest seeker-friendly churches, being interviewed by CBS. He said, ‘I come to this church because I’m comfortable. I’m never made to feel uneasy. I bring my Jewish friends and my business friends, and I know nothing will ever be said that will offend them. The best part of it is, the whole thing only lasts an hour.’ Take it from me: You can get your big church and be one of the big boys, but it’s going to cost you your soul if you preach with a focus only on earthly things, rather than on the things of God. I’ve lived in New York City 35 years. We have 103 nationalities from all walks of life – from the poorest to the richest. Probably 300 or more from the United Nations live there. But I look over a congregation (so does my dear friend, Jim Cymbala, in Brooklyn) and see men who have just walked in from the porno shops and are wild animals. I see a businessman friend who was CEO of a multimillion-dollar company, but he started snorting coke, lost everything, and is now a bum on the street. He sits in the congregation. A little 14-year-old girl with AIDS is up on 8th Avenue performing lewd acts before dirty old men. She comes to church and keeps saying, ‘Pastor Dave, I’ve got to get out. I’ve got to get help.’ I’m not about to put up a silly skit and preach a 15-minute message on how to cope to a multitude of people who are dying and going to hell. I tremble at the thought. People don’t like to hear this, but we’re headed for perilous times – just a few years away from a collapse like the world has never known. (Preached 3 years before 9/11 – a prophetic word if I ever heard one – Anita) When that happens, all who preached prosperity are going to disappear because the people will say, ‘Your gospel has failed me.’ When that time comes, I want to grasp onto Jesus, and I want everyone I’ve preached to to have faith in the keeping power of Jesus Christ. I want them to know Him in His fullness. I want to know that I’ve done it in love, in grace, that they would know the difference between the holy and the profane. May God, in Jesus’ name, spare the Assemblies of God forever. If I have ever given a prophetic message in my lifetime that God intended for a purpose, it is now. Many are being deceived. If they are not awakened, what I warn you about will happen. I pray that God will keep the Assemblies of God in its original purposes. In New York City, He has proved that the people come to hear a straight gospel, and thousands will come where the Word of God is being preached without compromise and yet with grace. May the young men who are discouraged in the Movement not try for a shortcut but be broken and on their faces before the Lord.

May we get our eyes off growth and onto a new revelation of who Jesus is.”

Message taken from transcript at Sermonindex.com

 

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