There is no finality to the Christian LIfe this side of eternity. Leonard Ravenhill

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Placebo: Exposing the Farce of Cultural Relevancy

Placebo - Any harmless substance given to humor a patient or as a test in controlled experiments.

Go into the average American church on any given Sunday morning and you will come face to face with a fleshly driven religion. The music is orchestrated so as to appeal to your senses, and cause you ultimately to worship the music and not God. Film clips from the latest Hollywood blockbusters are shown during the message to appeal to carnal church members. The dress of the congregants is not holy, but selfish and fleshly. The preaching occasionally can become a little racy and crass in its verbal content causing you to sit up straight in your seat. The 21st century professing church is worldly and sensual, and this is sin.

Long ago a Scottish preacher by the name of Andrew Bonar said, "I looked for the church and I found it in the world, I looked for the world, and alas, I found it in the church." It is almost unbelievable to imagine that Bonar wrote this well over a century ago. We often look at the past through rose colored lenses, but these halcyon imaginations are far from the truth. The Apostle Paul dealt with these very issues when he instructed the Roman Christians, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind." (Romans 12:2)

I believe that too often we are content in this world. We get too comfortable and at home here. Paul said, "Set your mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth." (Colosians 3:2) We are so mesmerized by this world's system that we try to lure the unconverted in to our churches through worldliness. We formulate plans, we create methods, we institute programs; but in the end all of our ingenuity proves fruitless. We try to be contagious Christians, but all we do is make the world sick.

Some preachers get tattoos and piercings so that they can relate to a certain type of crowd. Others try with all of their might to be cool and to fit in with society at large. The mentality is to be like the world to win the world; but my question would be is what are we winning them to? Are we winning them to a pseudo-Christianity. A system that looks sort of like the real thing but is actually a fake. Are we offering society a harmless substance just to humor them? We are passing out medicine that is useless, that has no potency.

Jesus never preached that the gospel was harmless. He spoke as if the truth was dangerous. He said He didn't come to bring peace but a fire and a sword. In Acts when Peter preached at Pentecost the people were pricked in their hearts at Peter's words. This was not some poke with a pin, this literally means they were stabbed by the truth they had heard. The writer of the Book of Hebrews similarly states, "The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Christianity isn't harmless, its dangerous.

The saintly 19th century preacher Robert Murray McCheyne, once explained what the world should actually be attracted to Christianity by. He wrote, " I see a man cannot be a faithful minister, until he preaches Christ for Christ's sake- until he gives up striving to attract people to himself, and seeks only to attract them to Christ."

You see the subtle danger of all of our methodology, is that we imply Christ is not enough of an attraction for the world. Christ needs some help. So we add bowling alleys to our churches. We take the teens to Six Flags. We have church beach parties. We have rock and roll concerts for our worship services. It seems we think Christ needs our help. But I have news for you, He doesn't need our help. Christ will never stand beside a plus-sign.

Which one of these methods did the early church apply? They did not need lights, and noise, and entertainment; they had something far better, they had the Holy Ghost. I believe we have to employ these sideshows because far too often we don't have the main attraction within our midst.

Our modern conception of relevance is a farce. Biblical relevancy is outmoded today, but I believe a return to it is necessary. Christ and the early church never offered the world the same life they already had just a sanitized version. They offered the new birth, an entire overhaul of ones being. Birth is the most life altering and traumatic event of every humans life. Everything changes. Environment. Food. Goals. Lifestyle. When a baby is born its entire life is turned upside down. I believe Christ used this illustration in John 3, not superfluously, He was completely serious. He meant no hyperbole, He knew what He was saying.

When Christianity invades a man or woman's life it greatly alters their entire existence. We are not saved to remain the same individual we were before conversion. We are saved so that God can make us like Christ, not so we can be cool. The more Christlike we are the greater witness we are to this dying world. When we assimilate with the world in our evangelism, we are saying Christ is a nice option, a nice additive. The world is given the placebo but remains sick. This new found medicine humors them, but they are never changed.

We must stop offering this world happiness, prosperity, blessing, contentment, and friends; and begin offering the truth. The 18th century preacher John Wesley traveled up and down England's countryside preaching the Gospel on the streets. Everywhere that he went he offered one thing, it wasn't heaven, it wasn't money, it wasn't happiness. Time and time again throughout his journals he says that he offered Christ to his crowds.

Lets stop offering a placebo to the world and start offering Christ.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Learning From the Faithful: Ian Thomas

CHRIST HIMSELF THE CONTENT OF CHRISTIAN FAITH - Ian Thomas

There is something, which makes Christianity more than a religion, more than an ethic, and more than the idle dream of the sentimental idealist. It is this something, which makes it relevant to each one of us right now as a contemporary experience. It is the fact that Christ Himself is the very life content of the Christian faith. It is He who makes it "tick." "Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it" (I Thessalonians 5:24). The One who calls you is the One who does that to which He calls you. "For it is God which worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). He is Himself the very dynamic of all His demands.

Christ did not die simply that you might be saved from a bad conscience, or even to remove the stain of past failure, but to "clear the decks" for divine action. You have been told that Christ died to save you. This is gloriously true in a very limited, though vital sense. In Romans 5:10 we read, "If, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." The Lord Jesus Christ therefore ministers to you in two distinct ways - He reconciles you to God by His death, and He saves you by His life.

This, however, is but the beginning of the story, "for if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, (now an accomplished fact,) we shall be saved (as a continuing process) by His life" (Romans 5:10). The glorious fact of the matter is this no sooner has God reconciled to Himself the man who has responded to His call, than He re-imparts to him, as a forgiven sinner, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and this restoration to him of the Holy Spirit constitutes what the Bible calls regeneration, or new birth. Titus 3:5 and 6, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour."

From: The Saving Life of Christ, Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House. ©1961

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Oswald Chambers On Purity

"None can make themselves pure by obeying laws. Purity is not a question of doing things rightly, but of the doer on the inside being right. Purity is difficult to define; it is best thought of as a state of heart just like the heart of our Lord Jesus Christ...

Jesus Christ demands that purity be explicit as well as implicit-that is, my actual conduct, the actual chastity of bodily life, the actual chastity of my mind, is to be beyond the censure of Almighty God-not beyond the censure of other people, that would produce Pharisaism; I can always deceive others. Jesus Christ has undertaken by the redemption to put in me a heart that is so pure that God can see nothing to censure in it. That is the marvel of the redemption-that Jesus Christ can give me a new heredity of the Holy Spirit, and if it is there, says Jesus, it will work out in actual history." 

Studies In the Sermon on the Mount Pg.22-23  Oswald Chambers

Monday, May 9, 2011

Boldly Pure Part 2

"Those are not chaste that are not so in spirit as well as body." Matthew Henry

April 25 I made a post about purity, since then I have had many other thoughts on this subject. I believe the Lord wants us as His children to be very serious about this issue. The world around us is brazenly impure but we must be boldly pure, inside and outside.

I believe that their are four components or principles that we must study when we speak of purity. Though society says that purity is the stuff of fairy tales, the Bible says otherwise. Christians are the "called out ones", called out of what? the world. We have been sanctified, set apart from this worlds system. We are not to be conformed or molded to the culture we live in, we are to be made like Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Principles of Purity

Spiritual Purity- Throughout the Old Testament prophets, the nation of Israel is likened to an unfaithful spouse. When she we would go after other God's, the prophets speaking by God's command, pronounced such behavior as spiritual adultery. They had no fidelity, no concern for promises and vows they had made.

In the book of James we are told to keep ourselves unspotted from the world. The world wants to stain us, it wants to see the the name of our God shamed, but we must not give them occasion to. We must as the bride of Christ be faithful to the Bridegroom. We must continually seek to be spiritually pure.

Physical Purity- If you are unmarried I want you to get a hold of this; if God wills it, and He probably does, somewhere on this globe right now, you have a spouse He is preparing for you. Your mission in life should be to be faithful to that man or woman, right now though you may not even know them.In all of your words, actions, and looks remember that you have a spouse that you must honor. Your love for that man or woman must be birthed now.

Recently the Lord has been teaching me that our lives speak volumes. The way we look, what we wear, our faces, our stride, our actions. You are a billboard; what are you advertising? When people look at you do they see an advertisement for you? Does the way you live scream, look at me? Or when people look at you do they see Christ? If we possess physical purity we will never attract people to ourselves, we will always point them to our Savior.

Mental Purity- Our Lord touched on this subject in Matthew 5. He took the issue of adultery which had primarily been viewed as a physical issue,and challenged us in the realm of our thoughts. Our Lord commanded, not suggested, that our thought life be brought under subjection to His Lordship.

Our mind must be as chaste as our dress. You must be a virgin in thought as well as deed. It is not enough to talk of waiting for our spouse in merely a physical sense, this waiting must also permeate our thought life. Purity isn't only about not kissing before marriage, it's also about becoming holy in all of your thinking. Take every thought captive to obey Christ.

Emotional Purity- In this issue of purity we must consider the emotional aspect also. Many a young person has allowed themselves to become attached or infatuated with another individual, but this is also a breach of purity. It can be easy to let our emotions run wild, but we must rein them in and have control over them. Remember temperance or self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. (Gal. 5)

As Christians we are representatives of a marriage union between the Bridegroom Christ and the Bride, the church or Christians. This union is to be pure and holy, set apart from this world and sin. In our individual lives if we live in an impure way we are misrepresenting the Christ/church relationship. The name of our God is then blasphemed among the world because of us. (Ref. Romans 2:24)

Let us be sanctified, set apart to our Lord's holy will.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Learning From the Faithful: Leonard Ravenhill


I have recently been reading Mack Tomlinson's biography of Leonard Ravenhill called "In Light of Eternity." I have been blessed and challenged as I have come to know and understand this man better. My Dad introduced me to Ravenhill many years ago through his books, and ever since I have appreciated his books and audio sermons. If you are unfamiliar with Ravenhill you would do well to acquaint yourself with his ministry.

This article was originally a chapter in Ravenhill's book "America Is Too Young To Die". This was written over thirty years ago but the principles remain the same.

Picture of a Prophet- By Leonard Ravenhill

The prophet in his day is fully accepted of God and totally rejected by men.

Years back, Dr. Gregory Mantle was right when he said, "No man can be fully accepted until he is totally rejected." The prophet of the Lord is aware of both these experiences. They are his "brand name."

The group, challenged by the prophet because they are smug and comfortably insulated from a perishing world in their warm but untested theology, is not likely to vote him "Man of the year" when he refers to them as habituates of the synagogue of Satan!

The prophet comes to set up that which is upset. His work is to call into line those who are out of line! He is unpopular because he opposes the popular in morality and spirituality. In a day of faceless politicians and voiceless preachers, there is not a more urgent national need than that we cry to God for a prophet! The function of the prophet, as Austin-Sparks once said, "has almost always been that of recovery."

The prophet is God's detective seeking for a lost treasure. The degree of his effectiveness is determined by his measure of unpopularity. Compromise is not known to him.
He has no price tags.
He is totally "otherworldly."
He is unquestionably controversial and unpardonably hostile.
He marches to another drummer!
He breathes the rarefied air of inspiration.
He is a "seer" who comes to lead the blind.
He lives in the heights of God and comes into the valley with a "thus saith
the Lord."
He shares some of the foreknowledge of God and so is aware of
impending judgment.
He lives in "splendid isolation."
He is forthright and outright, but he claims no birthright.
His message is "repent, be reconciled to God or else...!"
His prophecies are parried.
His truth brings torment, but his voice is never void.
He is the villain of today and the hero of tomorrow.
He is excommunicated while alive and exalted when dead!
He is dishonored with epithets when breathing and honored with
epitaphs when dead.
He is a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, but few "make the grade" in his class.
He is friendless while living and famous when dead.
He is against the establishment in ministry; then he is established as a saint
by posterity.
He eats daily the bread of affliction while he ministers, but he feeds the Bread of
Life to those who listen.
He walks before men for days but has walked before God for years.
He is a scourge to the nation before he is scourged by the nation.
He announces, pronounces, and denounces!
He has a heart like a volcano and his words are as fire.
He talks to men about God.
He carries the lamp of truth amongst heretics while he is lampooned by men.
He faces God before he faces men, but he is self-effacing.
He hides with God in the secret place, but he has nothing to hide in
the marketplace.
He is naturally sensitive but supernaturally spiritual.
He has passion, purpose and pugnacity.
He is ordained of God but disdained by men.

Our national need at this hour is not that the dollar recover its strength, or that we save face over the Watergate affair, or that we find the answer to the ecology problem. We need a God-sent prophet!

I am bombarded with talk or letters about the coming shortages in our national life: bread, fuel, energy. I read between the lines from people not practiced in scaring folk. They feel that the "seven years of plenty" are over for us. The "seven years of famine" are ahead. But the greatest famine of all in this nation at this given moment is a FAMINE OF THE HEARING OF THE WORDS OF GOD (Amos 8:11).

Millions have been spent on evangelism in the last twenty-five years. Hundreds of gospel messages streak through the air over the nation every day. Crusades have been held; healing meetings have made a vital contribution. "Come-outers" have "come out" and settled, too, without a nation-shaking revival. Organizers we have. Skilled preachers abound. Multi-million dollar Christian organizations straddle the nation. BUT where, oh where, is the prophet? Where are the incandescent men fresh from the holy place? Where is the Moses to plead in fasting before the holiness of the Lord for our moldy morality, our political perfidy, and sour and sick spirituality?

GOD'S MEN ARE IN HIDING UNTIL THE DAY OF THEIR SHOWING FORTH. They will come. The prophet is violated during his ministry, but he is vindicated by history.

There is a terrible vacuum in evangelical Christianity today. The missing person in our ranks is the prophet. The man with a terrible earnestness. The man totally otherworldly. The man rejected by other men, even other good men, because they consider him too austere, too severely committed, too negative and unsociable.

Let him be as plain as John the Baptist.
Let him for a season be a voice crying in the wilderness of modern theology and
stagnant "churchianity."
Let him be as selfless as Paul the apostle.
Let him, too, say and live, "This ONE thing I do."
Let him reject ecclesiastical favors.
Let him be self-abasing, nonself-seeking, nonself-projecting, nonself- righteous,
nonself-glorying, nonself-promoting.
Let him say nothing that will draw men to himself but only that which will move
men to God.
Let him come daily from the throne room of a holy God, the place where he has
received the order of the day.
Let him, under God, unstop the ears of the millions who are deaf through the
clatter of shekels milked from this hour of material mesmerism.
Let him cry with a voice this century has not heard because he has seen a vision
no man in this century has seen. God send us this Moses to lead us from the
wilderness of crass materialism, where the rattlesnakes of lust bite us and where
enlightened men, totally blind spiritually, lead us to an ever-nearing Armageddon.

God have mercy! Send us PROPHETS!


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COPYRIGHT/REPRODUCTION LIMITATIONS: This data file is the sole property of Leonard Ravenhill. It may not be altered or edited in any way. It may be reproduced only in its entirety for circulation as "freeware," without charge. All reproductions of this data file must contain the copyright notice (i.e., "Copyright (C) 1994 by Leonard Ravenhill."). This data file may not be used without the permission of Leonard Ravenhill for resale or the enhancement of any other product sold. This includes all of its content with the exception of a few brief quotations. Please give the following source credit: Copyright (C) 1994 by Leonard Ravenhill, Lindale Texas - http://www.ravenhill.org

Monday, May 2, 2011

From My Bookshelf - Who Put Jesus On the Cross

Who Put Jesus on the Cross? And Other Questions of the Christian Faith

This past weekend I read this incredible book by A.W. Tozer. I have long appreciated Tozer's books, ever since ten or twelve years ago when my Dad and I read "The Pursuit of God" together. This book is a collection of sermons of Tozer's. It is interesting to note that the issues and problems Tozer's was addressing well over half a century ago, are the same things we are facing today. It is a prime example that times may change but men and women do not.

Some of my favorite chapters were titled, "Are There Shortcuts to the Beauty of Holiness?", "How Can a Moral Man Find Saving Truth?", "Do You Know About the Next Chapter After the Last?", and "Who Put Jesus On the Cross?".

In a chapter on the rich young ruler Tozer's insights were insightful. He wrote, "Let me tell you what a moral man really is: he is good enough to deceive himself and bad enough to damn himself!

"This young man did not realize the danger of being a moral man... He had just enough religion to delude himself and deceive himself. He was just good enough to make himself think that he was all right, to answer that he had kept God's laws.

"The very fact that he could remember that he had kept any of God's laws disqualified him instantly for eternal life. He trusted in his own moral defense rather than acknowledge his sin and his need."

In another chapter he writes, ".. the most intolerant book in all the wide world is the Bible, the inspired Word of God, and the most intolerant teacher that ever addressed himself to an audience was the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

"On the other hand, Jesus Christ demonstrated the vast difference between being charitable and being tolerant. Jesus Christ was so charitable that in His great heart He took in all the people in the world and was willing to die even for those who hated Him."

This book is truly another one of Tozer's gems. I would recommend it to anyone as Tozer at his very best.