The Path That Rocks

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Is, or was, the emerging church merely a passing fad primarily for bored yuppies smugly unhappy with their conventional suburban churches and pining for a spiritual theater more hip and supposedly more relevant? One Sojourners writer, quoting a blogger, credited emergents for their contributions to “women’s issues, conversations about sexuality, environmentalism, anti-foundationalism, [and] social justice.” But those “conversations” have been mainly only that. Not for nothing do emergents usually insist they are not a movement but a “community” or an ongoing “conversation.”

http://spectator.org/articles/39523/emergent-church-no-longer-emerging

‘The Emperor’s New Groove’ was a favourite of ours when the kids were young. Now they are all adults, but we still find ourselves quoting Kronk or Ysma (his evil boss). Phrases like “wrong lever”, or “demon llama!!!!” may not seem at first glance to be very cogent, but it is amazing how many times you can use them appropriately throughout life’s crazy moments.

Firstly though I want to talk about the challenge to the Kingdom of God that the Emerging church is issuing. Contrary to the quote from the above article, the Emergent Church is not simply a passing fad. It may describe itself in soft-focus terms, but their agenda, or rather the agenda of the spiritual forces arrayed against us through them, is decidedly direct and specific. Often we don’t look much further than the outward packaging with new ideas (dress vs tights). Those who propose new ideas often use the false logic that anyone who disagrees with them is just afraid of them. For the immature in the faith and for those who are not working out their own salvation with fear and trembling, this jibe can be very disturbing. The first reaction is often to rise up and challenge it, which is exactly what the other person wants. If they can engage you in emotional polemic they can easily out-manoeuvre you through verbal intimidation, straw-man arguments and ad-hominem taunts. Rather than respond with anger and personal offense we need to be sure of what it is we do believe. We need to do some bible study, make sure we are confident in our own faith, and then realise that these new ideas being proposed by the Emerging church are not that new. They are re-packaged especially for the younger generation and it is the younger generation who are selling them, but essentially they are simply an attempt by our enemy to destabilise genuine believers.

The Emerging church is attempting to distract us with it’s own conviction that it has something we do not: coolness…relevance…..life. They are distracting from the very important issue that they actually have no relevance or life at all when compared to the New Testament teachings of Jesus and Paul. This ‘coolness’ is simply a smug and self-confident front. If you are able to puncture the veneer of this vainglorious new generation of hip believers with the truth, the smugness tends to evaporate. What you see in it’s place is instability, luke-warmness and a lack of genuine integrity. They are in truth a mile wide and an inch deep, and as we all know, when presented with a vast expanse of water the first reaction is often to feel overwhelmed and think you can never cross it. When you realise that you can actually walk through it without getting even your ankles wet, you can relax. It is all a mirage, an illusion, and as Kronk has amusingly illustrated, all that is needed is a ‘begone’ and the confusion is dispelled. OK, maybe it will take a little more than that, but I want to help break the spell. I believe that the Emerging Church uses language, visual and sound technology and the leaven of lies and half-truths to first of all seduce and then overwhelm others in order to deceive and confuse us. It is all too easy to be influenced by what you see and what you think you see. In fact, the world uses these tools to change minds and influence behaviour through marketing, advertising and social media. They are powerful and world changing. They are not however grounded in scripture and in the kingdom of God. They are grounded in the ways of the Father of Lies, and they will kill your faith and shipwreck your spiritual life if you let them. The good news is that the truth will set you free. Or to be more specific, and cogent…..

31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

John 8 (NKJV)

Much of the emerging church preaches false doctrines of ecumenism, dominionism, the social gospel, the prosperity gospel and new age ideas of God in everyone. This is bad enough but it becomes worse with an attitude of smug arrogance. Many of the pedagogues of the emerging church put themselves at odds with the established church and or established church doctrines and claim victim status. They are being persecuted by the traditionalists (down with the old guard) because the traditionalists are not open-minded. The traditionalists are oppressive, antiquated and stuck in their ways. Yet although ostensibly the Emerging Church likes to rattle the cages of the Established Church, what they are really challenging is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not the Bible per se that they hate, but the word of God and its final, all-encompassing and over-arching authority. Generally, the Emerging Church is not a fan of the establishment, and let’s call the gospel of Jesus Christ the establishment for this argument. Their smugness and elitism, as with all rebellious and lawless thinking, is a symptom of their belief in their own ‘rightness’ and self-assurance. Yet our foundational belief as Christians, as believers of the full gospel of Jesus Christ, is that we have no basis for our own righteousness, and we come in humility before the Cross to acknowledge the authority, holiness and righteousness of God.

My problem is that the emerging church pin-up boys and girls are mostly of the genX and genY demographic and are influencing younger Christians in this same worldview.

I find it interesting that bloggers and authors like Rachel Held Evans for example proclaim earnestly that they want to speak for their generation as though the younger generation in the western world are not heard from. For those who are not familiar with Rachel here is a quick summary of her influence from the Eastern Mennonite University website in America

“ Rachel Held Evans, one of the most influential and quoted persons in the Millenial generation of Christians, has been spotlighted by NPR, Slate, BBC, The Washington Post, The Guardian (UK), The Times London, The Huffington Post and Oprah.com

http://emu.edu/now/news/2014/02/rachel-held-evans-is-coming-expect-surprising-insights-maybe-shocking-ones-from-this-popular-christian-blogger/

Here is a quote from one of Rachel’s recent blog posts

As I watched my Facebook and Twitter feeds last night, the reaction among my friends fell into an imperfect but highly predictable pattern. Christians over 40 were celebrating. Christians under 40 were mourning.  Reading through the comments, the same thought kept returning to my mind as occurred to me when I first saw that Billy Graham ad: You’re losing us.

I’ve said it a million times, and I’ll say it again…(though I’m starting to think that no one is listening): 

My generation is tired of the culture wars. 

We are tired of fighting, tired of vain efforts to advance the Kingdom through politics and power, tired of drawing lines in the sand, tired of being known for what we are against, not what we are for.

This is not the 1950s. The young are heard from in every section of the media from the internet to reality TV. We hear your voices whether speaking singing, dancing, cooking, writing books or doing stand-up everywhere that it is possible to hear voices. In fact the younger generation has been heard from in every decade since the 60s. In Rachel’s case, if you read the Mennonite description of her career to date, you will see that she has a very wide readership, is being listened to by very influential people, including probably the most influential person on American television Oprah Winfrey, a 50 something. I think Rachel is maybe one of those types of people who like to create drama where there is none. She is being listened to and she is being widely distributed so others can listen to her. So what does she really want?

Like a lot of young seemingly mainly left wing politicians in this country, what you are saying is not resonating with the older demographic because frankly, we have been there and done that. The baby-boomer generation started the generation gap by protesting things like the Vietnam War, racism and sexism. What they spoke out about were genuine issues. The way they spoke out about it became overheated and probably more than a little tiresome for the previous generation who had already fought in the second World War and were emotionally exhausted, traumatised from 7 years of terrible and mind-numbing conflict and were sick of the continual turmoil. The war had not stopped the conflict. Had men and women died in vain? There always seemed to be something more to get in an uproar about, however righteous the cause. I will never forget my father, who had been a commando in the D-day landings and been badly wounded by schrapnel. He often would sit and watch the news and the look on his face was devastating. He would turn to the rest of his family and proclaim desperately “what is the world coming to”. Everything used to be so clear cut and understandable, now it was all falling apart. If the hippie generation wondered why nobody was listening to them, perhaps it was because they were so self-absorbed and focused on their own issues. Some of those issues were real and cross generational like racism, others were simply fuelled by drugs and the belief that the older generation had screwed up the universe and they were going to get it right.

Rachel Held Evan’s belief that the previous generation of Christians had ‘screwed up’ somehow and didn’t understand the need to embrace things like homosexuality as normal is taking things to a whole nother level. She has the same attitude at the baby-boomer generation, yet speaks as though this was all something new and revelatory and at the same time self-evident. She is getting frustrated that the rest of us aren’t getting her. She claims to be a Christian yet like so many emerging ‘believers’ they are not really sure what it is they do believe, they just know that they don’t want to go down the same path as the older generation.

The old paths are not what is holding Rachel Held Evans back. She, like many emerging church apologists is suffering from the issue of sin nature verses the Holy Spirit. They want to both embrace the flesh and the soulish nature and at the same time know God in the midst. That is not how this works. It has always been this way and always will. First you accept that we can’t have it our way, but God’s, and God’s ways are not determined by young minds re-interpreting the bible to make it mean whatever works for them.

We are not failing to hear the voices of the young people in this age. What the young fail to realise is that those who support the establishment are the young of 30 years ago who likewise tried to change the world by challenging the status quo. There is a lot to be said for institutions which can withstand the continual testing of younger generations who ‘just want to be heard’. The Younger generation who seem to be dancing to the Pied Piper’s tune of emerging church have a right to speak out on their own behalf, but they do not have a right to lead others down the broad path of destruction.

And in this I refer to the established church. When I say established church I am not talking about denominations or hierarchy, programmes, popes or priests and pastors. I am not talking about the institution of church which began with Constantine. I am talking about the kingdom of God, the body of Christ, those who believe in Jesus Christ as our Saviour, the son of God, the born again, the led by the Spirit and the bible believing word of God preaching gospel proclaiming and entirely annoying ‘fundamental-ists’ who refuse to allow the emerging church to poison all the wells.

Unfortunately, the blogosphere is a seductive beast. Somebody once said that Google is the great oracle of our time and likewise, blogs have an almost mystical appeal. They are an unprecedented means of publishing opinions which then garner popularity, praise and criticism based on their zeitgeist. You can be nobody in particular and become a celebrity overnight. In the same way, the emerging church has tapped into this celebrity culture and made media stars of its leaders and speakers. Rachel Held Evans is a perfect example of why the emerging church is so popular. She is young (in her 30s), female (and therefore empowered), engaging and puts her vulnerabilities out there. She is like a cast member of ‘Friends’ except ten years later. She engages others because she apparently tells it like it is, but all Rachel is doing is acting as a mouthpiece for the doctrines of the mostly older male vanguard. Previously I talked about the young speaking to the young. Emerging church leaders are a mixture of the young, and those seeker-sensitive types who speak to those younger than them in the same language. More specifically you are looking at the baby-boomer generation of Jesus freaks who became leaders in the wake of the 70s and 80s and are taking advantage of the power vacuum amongst the younger generation. They don’t act as parents or elders or teachers, they act as friends. This is all very comforting, and would be fine if they were simply just friends, but they aren’t. They are role models and they are leaders. They are leading these younger Christians down the broad path, or ‘the path that rocks’ rather than the path of righteousness.

And like Kronk, the younger generation are ‘sort of confused’ about what is right and wrong. In this video excerpt from ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’, Kronk, a minion of the evil Yzma, is listening to the discussion between an angel and demon on his shoulder. In trying to get him to go down the path ‘that rocks’, the demon has only two (rather than his stated three) points to consider. The first is that the angel looks stupid (ad hominem argument) the second is that the shoulder demon, is impressively athletic. As Kronk points out “what does that have to do with anything”. As the angel points out, maybe there is something to the fact that this demon is so good at standing on his hands. Even the elect are being deceived by the verbal gymnastics of those who wish to go down the ‘path that rocks’.

Rachel Held Evans appeals to the young and because she is a woman she is being accepted. Women are a perfect mouthpiece for the disillusioned, abused, minority groups out there who need acceptance. The GLBT community, those who grew up in authoritarian controlling churches and had authoritarian controlling fathers and pastors, women who are tired of being told they aren’t allowed to speak in church and many others. As a woman who belonged to all of these sub-groups except the GLBT (but had a mother and sisters who sympathised) I understand perfectly the appeal of the emerging church.

Incidentally, Rachel denies being part of the emerging church but either she doesn’t see who she is being influenced by or she is not being honest with herself. She is hanging out with the likes of Rob Bell, and attending conferences with speakers such as Tony Campolo and Brian McLaren. Evan’s views are very much in line with the emerging church, therefore she can’t really say she is not part of it. The fact that many emerging church writers and leaders don’t like to align themselves officially with the emerging church is something of a comment on the nature of the Emerging Church itself. They don’t want to offend anyone and they don’t like being pigeon-holed which makes them in their own eyes, amorphous and ‘part of the conversation’ which is a euphemism for “don’t label me cause I might change my mind”. This vague non-specificity is apparently very cool right now. It is better to have fluid views because let’s face it anyone with popular appeal generally ends up being proved wrong or fails publicly in some way sooner or later. If you have fluid views you can always say that you were ‘experimenting’ with whatever or whoever it is who ends up being publicly disavowed.

Here is a quote from one of her blog posts wherein she makes it perfectly clear that it is not politically correct for her to align herself with the Emerging Church.

As the book launch approaches, I’ve been warned by several advisors to avoid aligning myself with the “emerging church.” Identifying with this group will alienate potential readers, they say.  It will box me in and limit my influence, they say. It will subject me to unwanted criticism, they say.

While I’m no fan of labels—(and “emerging” or “emergent” can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people)— it would be dishonest for me to say that I have not been influenced by many of the writers and speakers that are associated with this movement. In fact, I’m currently reading Brian McLaren’s latest book, A New Kind of Christianity, and plan to include an interview with him on the blog later this month.

http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/changing

But then it is this deliberate commitment to changing ideas and experimentation which makes the emerging church ‘theology’ so destructive. They know what they don’t believe, they just don’t want to tell you what they do believe. It always comes back to the revolutionary goal of undermining the establishment without really having anything of substance to replace it.

As an aside here is Rachel’s blog comments policy…

“Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are constantly negative or a general ass, troll, or hater, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us.”

It’s her blog, and she is entitled to delete whomsoever she pleases, its just that this policy is so emergent its not funny. OK, well it kind of is I mean I laughed. The last sentence says it all. “The definition of terms is left solely up to us.” This could quite easily be the motto for the Emerging Church, and if nothing else is enough to convince me that Rachel Held Evans is a voice in this community.

Emerging church doctrines however do not attempt to violently destroy the established church. In fact in many ways, the established church has done the destroying for generations. The Catholic church engaged in murder on a heinous scale, and destroyed anyone who didn’t recant their own egregious ideas or beliefs. The Catholic church has been psychopathic in its hatred of the outsider or the dissenter. The true church has always been killed or imprisoned by the establishment, and the emerging church is ironically becoming the very thing it thinks it is working against.

Who has the greatest growing church in the western world? The emerging church has the giga-churches, the air-waves, the music industry, the ear of politicians. In fact, we believe that the emerging church is simply another strand of the newly forming world church where there are no fundamentals of doctrine, no specific and strict beliefs, no exclusions, no sinners, no sin, no need to repent, no cross, no blood, no call to renounce the world, no boundaries. This new church includes all denominations, all religions in fact, and all ideas and theologies. The agents of this change are the emerging church leaders, the catholic church leaders, the new age leaders, and even the established protestant church leaders. All are falling prey to this non-doctrine doctrine and as long as you lay down your long-held bible based beliefs and join with the new world order, you will be accepted and loved. By the world. But as scripture tells us..

James 4:3-5

New King James Version (NKJV)

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and[a] adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?

As I said though, the gospel can’t be re-defined because it is beyond temporal or worldly understanding. It is the word of God who is eternal, and his word is eternal and unchanging. How then can you define or even re-define terms when those previous definitions become out-dated if God’s word is unchanging. People don’t change, there is nothing new under the sun (from the Solomon, world’s wisest man), and therefore the only point to re-defining Christianity, our beliefs, the gospel, or the tenets of our faith is to insert something in there that wasn’t before…yourself.

 

Further reading:

Willow Creek and the Socialist Agenda

http://www.moriah.com.au/textarchive/nwo.htm

*See this excellent article for the examination of the attitudes of leftwing politics in Australia http://www.melbournereview.com.au/features/article/The-Toxicity-of-Smugness

http://standupforthetruth.com/2012/10/the-influence-of-rachel-held-evans/

http://spectator.org/articles/39523/emergent-church-no-longer-emerging

 

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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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