“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Monday, January 10, 2011

All pious-ed up

Last night my long time friend, Richard, and I spoke on the phone. During the conversation, the subject surfaced of making Jesus center of Christianity. He replied that he had listened to a sermon on prayer, but no mention of Christ and his life were brought into the presentation. He didn’t see anything inappropriate about that since the sermon was only a segment of a series on spiritual growth, and that Christ would be brought in as some point in the series.

Too often I’ve seen Jesus used in brief mention or as a side dish of the main order or a smokescreen to introduce voluminous information on Christianity’s doctrines and practices. Like the big, blue billboard on a camp meeting stage. It read, “Its all about Jesus.” Wow! I thought. We’re going to hear about Jesus this time!

But, alas, Friday night we heard, with great drama, a preacher’s personal battle with cancer; we covered the Sabbath School lesson in the morning; the worship service was on decision making; we got sung to in the afternoon; and that evening we heard a televangelist tell how he learned to preach. Not a single mention of Jesus all Sabbath long. But there sat that sign—It’s all about Jesus!—as if to do for the preachers what they couldn’t do themselves. And then, of course, to bless the whole charade, we were all called to the foot of the stage, a thousand strong, to rededicate ourselves to Jesus! Based on what? Chaff?

Rededicating our lives for the sake of rededicating—because Christ was never brought up. Prayer just to pray, because Jesus is not known. Being good for the sake of being good. Do the atheists and pagans any differently? A pious life just for the sake of piety makes the Lord very nauseous. Rev. 3:16. “Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them.” (1Cor. 6:13).

Everything we do as religious people, even praying for the Latter Rain at 7 o’clock, must be for the purpose of grasping a clearer view of Jesus and His love for us and for getting recognizable power to live aright through trusting in His character and beautiful person. Otherwise, it’s simply praying for the Latter Rain for the sake of praying for the Latter Rain. Perfect futility.

This is how true religion becomes the synagogue of Satan. By forgetting to seek after Jesus, He is left out of true religion. From there its downhill all the way to oblivion. No one can ever say, “My denomination is invulnerable to Satan’s sophistries.” Satan is taking advantage of the natural human vulnerability to not seek God, even within Adventism; and we are seeing it right before our very eyes. Adventists, we need to wake up to this.

Just read the prophetic book of The Desire of Ages to see how it will all end up. It can result in only one thing—the same as has happened all through history—the church of Christ morphing into the church of Satan. They kill thinking they do “God” service. Only the sacrifice of Cain can make this happen.

The people of God in Christ’s day thought they had eternal life by their faithful Bible study. John 5:39. But without the faith in the God their fathers knew and seeking His love and acceptance like Abraham did, what did their Bible study accomplish for them? The wrong conception of the God of love. They had left the need for Him out of their Bible study and prayer life and proselytizing. They wouldn’t come to Him that they might have life.

They blindly studied the scriptures for the sake of studying the scriptures. Without the Spirit of God present to help interpret what they read, the spirit of Satan helped them interpret their scrolls and then he led them to kill the Son of God—all under the direction of their Bible!

Bible reading for the sake of Bible reading. Returning tithe for the sake of returning tithe. Going to church for the sake of going through the motions. Evangelizing for the sake of evangelizing, giving hundreds of Bible studies and baptizing thousands without exalting and studying Jesus, who He is. This is what false revivals are all about.

Christless revivals; revivals for the sake of revivals. Net 2001, Net 2002, Net 2003… Net 2011. It will go on forever and Jesus will never come. Not until the revival comes that studies His pure mind, His spotless character and person, His perfect merits, His unselfish life and death; then He will come and claim a people who are transformed through knowing Him and through fellowship with His sufferings.

A friend of mine got ransacked by the devil—even to the point of being harassed by voices in his head. After giving himself to God, his life was suddenly devastated. My friend thought it was Jesus talking to him and that God had wrecked his life because of his past sins. But He had confessed his transgressions and abandoned that old life. In lamentable tones he told me the most flabbergasting statement—blatant righteousness by works! I smiled inside as he listed each item, counting them emphatically one finger at a time, “I was all prayed up, all tithed up, all tracted up (giving out Bible tracts), all studied up…. And the Lord destroyed my life!” And, because he was a Christian now he was torn, fighting back the worst invectives toward a God he wanted to serve who would abuse His power against my friend as the great Sovereign Creator/Judge.

Obviously, my friend misunderstood the gospel and the character of God. And don’t we all go through this same experience? We leave the life of sin from the motive of fear and loneliness. But we don’t really know Jesus and it can take a while before we hear that only by knowing Him can Jesus be able to help us. The pervasive fallacy of legalistic piety and Christless Christianity is never explained to us, nor do we conceive of it.

How much of Christendom and the world’s religions are just like this! Praying for the sake of praying, being all caught up on prayer, so that God or Allah or the gods, are indebted, appeased, and bound to free them from the assaults of Satan. While “the people ... labour in vain, and the folk in the fire, and they shall be weary.” (Jer. 51:58). All because they don’t seek the the God of love, who commands with mercy, until they find Him.

Those who exist without living under the love of Christ, just going through the motions of morality and piety, are living in Babylon. And the warning is, “the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Rev 14:10,11).

Until we know Jesus, we serve Satan, who will even pose as God. Until we accept that righteousness and faith and surrender, et cetera, all come through knowing Jesus and trusting in Him, Satan will continue to harrass us, making Christians think his harrassment comes from God. It takes special prayer for us to be embassadors for Jesus to deliver these desperate souls.

“If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man [the Lord’s] uprightness:
Then He is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.” (Job 33:23,24).


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