Or has it actually been so watered down so that it is now understood as a full human work as a result and response to the theatrics of honey-tongued individuals offering health, wealth and happiness?
Or is it seen the way those folks tell you, that you can bring about your best life now here on earth, before you get to heaven, that your reality is all about you and that God is smiling on you right now, that sinning is not really a problem to Him, so you can basically just live your life as you always have, you just wear a “Christian” hat now.
Oswald Chambers states from the 1st devotional below,
“Anything that flatters me in my preaching of the Gospel will end in making me a traitor to Jesus; I prevent the creative power of His Redemption from doing its work. “
How many preachers/pastors do you know that can say a resounding,”Amen!” to that quotation above?
How many preachers/pastors do you know that do just that and more with ever increasing enthusiasm and manipulation?
THE MIRACLE OF BELIEF
“My speech and my preaching was not with enticing words.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Paul was a scholar and an orator of the first rank; he is not speaking out of abject humility; but saying that he would veil the power of God if, when he preached the gospel, he impressed people with his “excellency of speech.” Belief in Jesus is a miracle produced only by the efficacy of Redemption, not by impressiveness of speech, not by wooing and winning, but by the sheer unaided power of God. The creative power of the Redemption comes through the preaching of the Gospel, but never because of the personality of the preacher. The real fasting of the preacher is not from food, but rather from eloquence, from impressiveness and exquisite diction, from everything that might hinder the gospel of God being presented. The preacher is there as the representative of God – “as though God did beseech you by us.” 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 anywhere near Jesus Christ. Anything that flatters me in my preaching of the Gospel will end in making me a traitor to Jesus; I prevent the creative power of His Redemption from doing its work.
“I, if I be lifted up . . . , will draw all men unto Me.”
Now that you have read the quotation, lets look at some of the results of pastors and preachers, not preaching the way it is intended.
Are you possibly wondering why your Christian life is either grounded, in the background somewhere or completely slipped away? Perhaps it does not bother you at all. It should.
Let’s look a little deeper.
Did you once make a decision to say a prayer and “Hey Presto”, you were then told that you are now a new creation in Christ and welcome to the family and that your best life begins right now!
Because you made a decision….?
Perhaps you have been a member of a church for more years than you care to or can actually remember? You may say, “But I go there every week and belong to the ‘Magnificent Ladies for God’ group!“or perhaps, “I am a proud member of ‘Dare to be a Daniel for God’ men’s group”? What about, “I read my Bible faithfully and attend Church twice on a Sunday and Bible Study once a week surely that has to count towards something!?“
“I am confirmed and baptised and take holy communion regularly! That means I am saved! I even have it on good authority from the pastor himself!“
No, it sadly does not. That is just religion. Only the Lord can give you assurance that you are saved. No one else.
Not one of these reasons, as they stand above, means you are truly saved, truly born again, truly part of the family of God. It just means you took part in or acquiesced to something that was happening at the time or is ongoing even now.
Belief is a miracle straight from the Lord God Almighty that brings us back to where He first planned us to be, until sin entered into the grand scale of things, through Adam. (Please read Romans 5:12-21) It is only through the death of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross and it is in and through His atonement for our sin alone, that we can say we are anything to Him at all. It has absolutely nothing to do with our self-perception or self-belief, confidence or our abilities or how much we have done or are involved in or how many prayers we say/recite a day or even how good or kind or charitable we may think we are. It is His grace alone. (Now please read the whole chapter of Ephesians 2:1-22)
The belief to believe in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, and to experience true repentance, which is totally necessary, and to be brought to a place where we understand that without Him we have nothing, no life, no hope, and that we are nothing without Him. To grasp that it is fully based in the Atonement of Jesus Christ alone and our ability to enter into repentance and give ourselves in utter surrender and our lives to Him, is given fully by Him. Even the faith we get or have, is from Him.
The Holy Spirit is the only One who can point us to Jesus, to bring all this about. The true Gospel, fully founded in the death, resurrection and Atonement of the Lord Jesus and not another message masquerading as the real Gospel is where Salvation may be found and is not possible on any other basis whatsoever.
If you reading this are attending a church where hysterical antics and huge emotive, manipulative “say the prayer or else” scenarios are taking place, I encourage you to ask the Lord to move you or if you are not sure if what I am saying is true, ask Him to show you. There are many Biblically sound sites and books around. If you are not sure, write to me and with pleasure I will endeavour to ‘send’ you in the right direction.
The truth of the matter is, becoming a Christian is life-changing. It is about moving away from the person you were to becoming with the full miracle of regeneration (you becoming a new creature in Christ) and sanctification (the continued daily walk in God where He brings about forming His Son in you).
Oswald says below,
Many a soul begins to come to God when he flings off being religious, because there is only one Master of the human heart, and that is not religion but Jesus Christ.
It is about a relationship with the Lord Jesus Himself, for Himself.
It ultimately costs you everything. It will eventually strip you of your self-will and bring you to a place where the Lord Jesus is all and you become totally abandoned to Him. It will bring you to a place with the Lord where you are able to understand that all your rights to yourself have to go. He is the only One Who can have full rights to us when we become His children. The moment of revelation and illumination is not a casual, fleeting thing.
Belief in the Lord Jesus to enter into salvation is fully, absolutely and completely a miracle and always will be. He has designed it so.
The second quotation below, is our response to the Gospel - for the person listening who can ‘see’ Jesus and turn his back, shrug Him off and walk away, is a very tragic day.
THE MYSTERY OF BELIEVING
“And he said, Who art Thou, Lord?” Acts 9:5
By the miracle of Redemption Saul of Tarsus was turned in one second from a strong-willed, intense Pharisee into a humble, devoted slave of the Lord Jesus.
There is nothing miraculous about the things we can explain. We command what we are able to explain, consequently it is natural to seek to explain. It is not natural to obey; nor is it necessarily sinful to disobey. There is no moral virtue in obedience unless there is a recognition of a higher authority in the one who dictates. It is possibly an emancipation to the other person if he does not obey. If one man says to another – ‘You must,’ and – ‘You shall,’ he breaks the human spirit and unfits it for God. A man is a slave for obeying unless behind his obedience there is a recognition of a holy God. Many a soul begins to come to God when he flings off being religious, because there is only one Master of the human heart, and that is not religion but Jesus Christ. But woe be to me if when I see Him I say – I will not. He will never insist that I do, but I have begun to sign the death warrant of the Son of God in my soul. When I stand face to face with Jesus Christ and say – I will not, He will never insist; but I am backing away from the recreating power of His Redemption. It is a matter of indifference to God’s grace how abominable I am if I come to the light; but woe be to me if I refuse the light (see John 3:19-21).