A GIFT FOR CHRIST JESUS THIS CHRISTMAS

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Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23)

Sounding The Clarion Call To Biblically-Based Prayer

As far back as 2009, in Apprising Ministries articles like Christian Soldiers Standing Up For Jesus?, I’ve been trying to bring to your attention how a kind of Rodney King theology of, “Can’t we all just get along,” has developed and that its serving to powerfully pervert the witness of the church visible.

In addition, the embrace of Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism by many mainstream evangelicals—coupled with a rampant charismania—is crippling Christendom. The resulting timid tolerance is truly the following recipe for spiritual disaster:

First you begin with a great big bowl full of years of shallow self-centered “what does this verse mean to me” Bible studies. Next stir in a large measure of biblical illiteracy, while adding just a small dose of the yeast of refusing to refute error; and then make sure to blend in more than a moderate proportion of women pastors.

To this muddied mix add in an unhealthy amount of the Church Growth Movement’s seeker driven “let’s make church an entertaining experience” smoothly blended together with tasty man-centered “tell ‘em what they want to hear.”

Now ignore it at your leisure; let the bitter batter fester until completely dense, then frost with critical-reasoning skills killing contemplative spirituality, and finally, dabble on top just a touch of postmodern pudding with its embrace of “mystery and ambiguity” a la the Emerging Church.

This is how we now arrive at the current state of mainstream evangelicalism; filled as it is with man-centered silly superstition and subjective experience replacing the robust God-centered Christian faith. Today the visible Christian church world-around is in the throes of deadly spiritual lethargy, not to mention outright apostasy, having been busy constructing The Idol of Evangelicalism.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s really only one antidote. While I don’t agree with all of his theology, I do believe Leonard Ravenhill was right when he tells us what it is:

People often ask me, “Why do you insist on prayer so much?” The answer is very simple, because Jesus did… Jesus went on a mount and He was transfigured. There’s nothing more transfiguring than prayer. The Scriptures say that the disciples went to bed, but Jesus went to pray as was His custom. It was His custom to pray. Now Jesus was the Son of God, He was definitely anointed for His ministry.

If Jesus needed all that time in prayer, then don’t you and I need time in prayer? If Jesus needed it in every crisis, don’t you and I need it in every crisis?… People say, “I’m filled with the Holy Spirit.” If the coming of the Spirit didn’t revolutionize your prayer life, you’d better check on it. Cause I’m not so sure you got what God wanted you to get… Jesus the anointed of God, made prayer His custom.

And so should you and I. As our Master says in our opening text — “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.”  The Christian is required by the Lord to make the effort to cultivate his relationship with his God. But be of good cheer fellow Christian, that effort to get to know God has already been made by Jesus Himself.

It’s part of a proper understanding of the Gospel to realize that He’s done the work for us. So, this is no legalism; rather, it’s joyful freedom to let His Spirit empower us, as it will be more than worth the time as you come to:

 “know the God of [the Bible] and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you…” (1 Chronicles 28:9)

Frankly, if you don’t have this desire, then you do have good reason to doubt whether you are even a Christian in the first place (cf.2 Corinthians 13:5). And God has also told us we are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling (cf. Philippians 2:12); not to sit still, but actually strive to be like Christ.

In discussing Philippians 2, The Lutheran Study Bible puts it well in reminding us why we can thus press on:

the fulfillment of the imperative to live like Christ is supported by all Christ gives freely: the encouragement, comfort, love, and the mind of Christ, along with the participation of the Spirit…

God’s action is the cause of the Philippians’ salvation and good works. with fear and trembling. The congregation cannot boast its accomplishments, least of all their salvation.

Paul commanded that fear and trembling accompany the lives of believers to keep our rebellious, sinful human nature (Rm. 5:6-10) subdued in the service of God and neighbor.1

The truth is, the life of the genuine Christian can be very hard at times, and especially so in an evil generation like this when men call what is good, evil, and what is evil, good (cf. Isaiah 5:20). Actually, this is a large part of what Jesus is talking about when He says:

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross [daily] and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37-38).

Let’s Return To Our Lord And Join Him In The Battle For The Souls Of Men

This is the actual Jesus of the Bible; which is the only One there is. More than ever, let us really be a family in Christ—united around our Savior and Lord—Jesus of Nazareth. the King and Commander of the Army of the living God, which is a real good reason to come home into His Church and to worship your Lord with your fellow soldiers.

With all the confusion of Law and Gospel today, I offer that it becomes vital for us to understand the proper distinction of each. For in this way, the Christian church can once again truly become God’s Lighthouse to shine the light of His glorious Gospel into the putrid postmodern darkness of the spiritual wasteland into which our world wallows.

The Good News is there’s repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ Name for all who will come. And so, the question I would ask The Ecumenical Church Of Deceit (ECoD): “Is it Him you love; or, perhaps it’s the caricature of Christ that you spiritual slackers have created.” Some say: “Well, I witness by my lifestyle of Christian ideals; and that speaks for me. I’m a silent witness.”

But as Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989) used to say: “Yeah, you’re so silent, no one even knows that you are a witness.” Don’t you know that there are all kinds of atheists, skeptics, and non-Christian cultists who live ethical lives; that really proves nothing. Our word “witness” comes from the Greek word martyr; and no one would have lost their lives for Christ if they had kept their mouths shut.

You know, to hear most “Christ-followers” talking today, you’d think it’s actually our duty to live as comfortably as we can; with the least possible conflict, and then to enter heaven for our “eternal rest.” I ask you; what exactly is it these people will be resting from? Yet even more rest? The fact is, the true Christian life in this fallen world is one of constantly striving for Jesus against the warfare of satanic forces.   

Now just think about most people’s concept of God for a moment. This mystic mush god of love that creates a mankind, who then pays him/her/it virtually no mind lest he/she/it “intrude” into their lives. So after enjoying all the creature comforts in this life, they then get to live in an Edenic paradise? Seriously, anyone who believes that really needs to have their spiritual head examined.

You see, the Bible tells us to — Fight the good fight of the faith (1 Timothy 6:12). What the genuine Christian witness needs today are men and women of courage and with the character to accept our God’s exhortation to — Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him (2 Timothy 2:3-4).

Then further — I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed (Romans 12:1-2). And finally, we are to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3, NKJV).

We could never do any of this on our own; however, what we can do is allow Christ in us to transform us. Let me encourage you dear Christian, this would be the greatest gift we might give our Savior, and it is really the only thing Christ Jesus our Lord and King may truly want on the day we celebrate His birth:

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe;
Forward into battle see His banners go!

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

And as we survey the current playground battlefield, things are so pathetic today that we are even witnessing the Seeker Driven attractional megachurches, the neo-liberal cult of the Emergent Church, and the spiritually whacked Word Faith wingnuts, actually merging right back into the apostate Church of Rome. So, let me ask you a question: Do you remember those “Christian soldiers” who marched out “as to war?”

My O my, they really were quite impressive once; weren’t they…

Further reading

Endnotes

  1. The Lutheran Study Bible, Edward A. Engelbrecht, General Editor, [St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2009] , 2035 [n. Phil. 2:1-12].