“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21
Frustration and Dissatisfaction
Are you one of those many Christians in a spiritual drought?
Are you in a spiritual wilderness?
Are you frustrated and bewildered by the emptiness and a dissatisfaction with your life and with your faith?
Are you crying out for something more?
Something that will fill that empty feeling with deep peace of mind, heart and of a capacity for a genuine experience of God’s love?
Do you find it necessary to put up a false front in front of other Christians, pretending to be what you are not?
Do you pretend to have a peace and joy that your soul knows nothing about?
Sometimes you may think that you are the only person in the world having such a frustrating and empty experience. You cannot tell just how many other Christians are hiding behind a false front. Hiding their hurts, needs and disappointments behind a mask.
This tragic situation is actually robbing many of the true joy, deep peace and real love that the Christian life is meant to be. The root of this problem is the shallow experience and the superficial message proclaimed by all too many Christian groups today.
Undermining Real Christianity in Australia
In Australia, I was told that one of the worst things that has happened to Sydney, which used to have such a strong dynamic Christian community (where Bishop Stephen Bradley came from, who planted so many churches in Rhodesia, South West Africa and South Africa), was Hillsong. Several Christians in Australia voiced the opinion that Hillsong has rotted the soul of Sydney and Australia and much of the Church, because of the shallow, superficial, man-centered worship that is now mostly accepted by all too many.
Once, when I went to collect, my son, Calvin, from a youth event hosted at Hillsong, I walked in and thought: Is this a nightclub, or a church? What Calvin reported was shocking. The music was mindless and the superficiality of the message preached was inoculating people against real Christianity.
When doing street Evangelism, I now encounter people saying what I never heard when I was first converted four decades ago. Many reply: “I am not interested.” “No, I tried Christianity, it did not work. I didn’t get my healing,” “I didn’t keep my healing,” “I didn’t get that job,” “I didn’t get the raise,” “I didn’t win the lottery!” What gospel are they talking about!? Many have apparently been inoculated against the real thing with a fake gospel. This shallow experience, the superficial message proclaimed by all too many Christian groups today has produced generations of people who think they have tried Christianity,but it did not work and yet they never even understood what the Gospel is.
The shallow message, short cut methods and oversimplified formulas have just failed to work. It is as though the devil himself has advocated another gospel, as Paul warned in Galatians 1:6-9. Even if he, or an angel from God, should present a different gospel, may he be accursed, condemned to hell. Polluting the Christian message, censoring its contents, confusing its issues, the enemy, satan, has reduced the greatest Message of all time, alternatively, to a cheap oversimplified formula, or to a dead over-complicated theology. Christians, apparently unaware, or ignorant, of these wiles of the devil have accepted all too easily such corruptions of the Gospel.
A Doctrine of Deception
Some churches sing over and over: I’m blessed and I know that I am. You ask me how I am, I’m blessed! I’m blessed! I’m blessed and I know that I am!” Their faces may be downcast and they may look depressed, yet they sing: I’m blessed. They are being pre-programmed to lie. They are taught to “speak it into existence,” to “confess the healing,” even when they did not experience any healing. This teaching encourages Christians to lie, to say: “I’m healed,” when they are not. They hope by speaking it, by lying, that God will reward their lie by actually healing them. They are taught that they have “the power of life and death” on their tongue. But only God can speak something into existence. We cannot. We are not God! Yet there are those who teach that we are.
If you watch American Gospel, Call for Discernment, or Clouds Without Water, Justin Peters exposes the blasphemous nonsense of such false teachers and shows them declaring: “we are little gods, I don’t just have a God within me, I am one,” “God’s Word’s in my mouth are as powerful as God’s Word’s in His own mouth!”
There are also cheap, oversimplified messages, such as: “He who calls on the Name of the Lord shall be saved! Have you called?” “Yes, I have called.” “Then you are saved!” Or “He who believes has eternal life! Have you believed?” “Yes, I have.” “Then you are saved!” The unforgivable sin is now to question your salvation! There is a lot in the Bible that requires us to test and question our motives, to see if we are built on the rock solid foundation of Christ alone.
“God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” “Just believe. Just raise your hand. Just come forward.” How do you know that you are saved? “I raised my hand, came forward and was baptised.” For many people this is the Gospel. A technical salvation that is all theory and no experience, leads to a dead theology, a lack of reality and lack of understanding of the truth of God’s Word.
Reject the Fake and Fraudulent
When I was converted, one of the first books I came across was a book called: Come! Live! Die! written by George Verwer . This was later republished as: Hunger for Reality. The dissatisfaction with the fake and fraudulent resonated with me. I could not accept anything that was less than Bible-based, Christ-centered, Book of Acts Christianity. The idea that a once for all token gesture of commitment can be sufficient to effect Eternal Salvation and inner fulfilment is to invite utter disillusionment. How many people have raised their hand, gone forward at a meeting, been baptised and yet not been right with God, not had a real relationship with God and not been regenerated? All of these concepts are unworthy of our great God. They are hopelessly inadequate for conveying the Biblical message.
Fake Faith Produces Plastic Fruit
God gave us the whole Bible, not just Four Spiritual Laws. Four spiritual flaws do not promote true spiritual life and deep inner spiritual satisfaction and fulfilment. The devil has a counterfeit for everything the Lord offers. He has false fruit to offer. Like the plastic fruit that looks real, it is not the real thing, although it looks the same. If you bite into it, it will taste like plastic. You will discover that it does not give deep peace of heart and mind, real joy, or true love. There is a lot of plastic religion out there.
Why is it that so many who try the counterfeit product and taste its synthetic flavour, like God TV, Faith Broadcasting Network, TBN, etc. believe that this is all that God has to give? It is not possible that the Creator of the universe could dish up this kind of dissatisfying, unedifying fruit.
If the way is disappointing, it is not God’s way.
If the fruit is unsatisfying, then you are barking up the wrong tree!
God’s way is not easy, but it is fulfiling.
God’s way is not cheap, but it is the best.
God’s way is not trouble-free, but it is the way of peace of heart and mind.
God’s way is not all blessings, but it is all joy.
Happiness and Joy
There is a difference between happiness and joy.
You can be happy because you won the race, passed the exams, or received a prize.
Joy is in spite of circumstances.
You can have joy in prison, or while sick. You can have joy despite the worst of circumstances.
JOY – Jesus first, Others next, You last.
Or Jesus with zero separating You.
Never Settle for Less than God’s Best
If you are content with a superficial, lukewarm, stagnant, decayed, defeated, mundane, mediocre existence, then God cannot give you a deep on fire, overflowing, fulfiling, victorious, supernatural life. By settling for less, we rob ourselves of the very best. Good can be the main enemy of best. Sometimes we are involved with something that is good, but it is not God. It is not the best. The Lord cannot give us the best, if we settle for less. Good is the main enemy of the best. If you are content with your present spiritual state, then the Lord can do more for you.
Recognise Enemies of Spiritual Growth
Complacency is the deadly enemy of spiritual growth and advancement. The trouble is that all too many have settled for second-rate, degenerate form of spiritual life. Hellsong, Purpose Driven Life, sinner friendly, Willow Creek, Saddleback, prayer of Jabez, self-centred, materialistic, spineless, lukewarm, evanjellyfish, are missing the real God-honouring, Bible-based, Christ-centered, Holy Spirit-led Christianity of the Book of Acts.
Jesus is Lord
To too many people, Jesus is not really Lord, He is merely the constitutional monarch of their religious convictions. Just like the Queen of England is called sovereign, but she is not meant to get involved in political or controversial affairs. Our Lord Jesus does not work like that. He is their Sovereign Lord of lords and King of kings. His Word is Law. The idea that you can have a monarch who does not interfere in your personal decisions is not acceptable, not to the Heavenly King, the Creator, Eternal Judge, the Sovereign Lord.
Whose Will Be Done?
Many people have made Jesus the impersonal figurehead of their religious convictions, but how they govern their lives and how they make decisions, is strictly their own business. You want his help, but you do not want His interference. Jesus can save me, He can answer my prayers, but he must not tell me what career to choose, what friends to have, what clothes to buy, what kind of language to use, what kind of life to live, what kind of music to listen to. He must not tell me what to spend my money, or my time, on.
Missing the Real, Settling for the Fake
You do not really believe that God gives the very best to those who leave the choice to Him. You feel that God is trying to cheat you out of pleasure. You feel that you know better than God. You seem to have a superficial commitment. You have settled for the counterfeit and so you are missing out on the real thing. You let the label fool you and now you are wondering why you are not fulfilled, not satisfied and not living in victory. The truth is you cannot expect maximum blessing from minimum commitment.
Saved to Serve
To whom much is given, much is required. To whom much more is given, much more is required. Freely you have received, freely, freely give. We are saved to serve. We are blessed in order to be a blessing. There is no short cut method. There is no four-point programme. There is no cut and dried, canned salvation. There is no substitute for full surrender to the Lordship of Christ, wholeheartedly seeking and following God’s way. “You will seek Me and you will find Me when you search with Me for all your heart,” says the Lord (Jeremiah 29:13).
Take Up Your Cross, Forsake the World and Follow Christ
We have to forsake the World. That is what it means to take up your cross. The Cross is a symbol of death. It is not just an ornament. “I have decided to follow Jesus,” taking up the Cross, dying to sin, forsaking the world. The Cross is not just a signpost to re-direct us down the right path, the Cross was used to end a life. It symbolises being born again to a new life in Christ and symbolises dying to the old life. Buried with Christ and raised with Christ. Born again to follow Him.
There is no substitute to giving up living for selfish reasons and worldly motivations. We must repent of our past sinful habits, our wasteful ways and then put all our energy, time, strength, talents, money and abilities under God’s control, to live fully for Him, with all we have.
You give Him everything. You give up your sins and your strengths, your lusts and your loves, your ambitions and your failures, your talents and your wasted opportunities, your abilities and your hurts, the good and the bad. God, in exchange, gives you forgiveness and eternal life, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control, guidance, opportunities and fulfilment in companionship and direction and meaning and purpose in life. We are justified and fully forgiven from all our sins. We are adopted into the family of God. We are enrolled into the army of God. You give up everything you have and you gain everything God has for you. What a deal! Why would anyone settle for less than that?
“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Jim Elliott
A Soldier’s Prayer
This poem was found in the Bible of a Confederate soldier:
I asked for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I had asked for,
but eveything that I had hoped for.
Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered;
I am, among all men, most richly blessed.
Overcoming, Advancing and Conquering
The way of Salvation is described in the Bible as a search (Jeremiah 29:13), a journey, a pilgrimage (Matthew 7:13-14), a war (2 Corinthians 10:3-5), a contest (1 Timothy 6:12). Christians are described as pilgrims (1 Peter 2:11), disciples (Mark 8:34), soldiers (2 Timothy 2:3) farmers (2 Timothy 2:6), long-distance runners (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). The Bible is full of words describing the Christian life as fighting, overcoming, advancing, conquering, struggling, suffering and succeeding. It does not describe it as passive: “Just believe, just receive, let go, let God.” Just sit back, be lazy, like the advert: “Sit back, relax, switch on to God TV, knowing that you are playing a vital role in fulfiling God’s kingdom on earth!” By being a couch potato!? With a remote control in your hand! Is that how you are actually going to take dominion and fulfil the Great Commission!? No, that is not how to fulfil God’s will. We need to get out into the streets, with boots laced up, like the symbol of the Great Commission Course. Put feet to your Faith!
Fight the Good Fight of Faith
The descriptions of salvation in the Bible speak of progress, advancement, movement, a continuous ongoing war, struggle, fight, experience. It is a way of life, not a once for all token, gesture of commitment, or a technical theory, or mere Theological information. It is not just knowing something in your head. It is not just temporary.
Restored Relationship with the Redeemer
The heart of the Gospel is a restored relationship with God through Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Peter 3:18). Where communication with God, contact with our Saviour, is established and maintained by daily quiet times, by reading the Bible, by studying the Bible, by praying through the Bible, by applying what we hear and learn in Church and Bible study, in our daily devotional life, in our reading of Christian books, in our fellowship with other Christians.
The vertical beam of the Cross symbolises our relationship with God. We pray to God and He speaks to us through the Word of God, the Bible. The horizontal beam represents our relationship, where we reach out to believers in fellowship and to unbelievers in evangelism. The vertical side: Just as we have two legs, so the Bible has two Testaments, the Old and New. Both are the Word of God together. Like a bird who has two wings, Prayer involves prayer and praise. Many think of prayer as just asking, like a shopping list, demanding things. But praise, thanksgiving, worship and adoration are vital parts of prayer. The horizontal side: our relationships with other people. Fellowship with believers, witness and evangelism to others. All of this should be united in an attitude of worship. That is the balanced Christian life of discipleship, where needs are met, where character is developed, formed and shaped and eternal purposes are fulfilled.
Exceedingly Abundantly Above All That We Ask or Think
We need to realise that God has so very much more to teach us, for us to learn, experience and to accomplish. “Now to Him Who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the Church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21.
Soli Deo Gloria!