Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away. For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation
Has the Church, and is the Church drifting from the faith, and if so, where is it drifting, to what ends, and what impact does it have on the next generation of Christians are all questions many are either asking, sensing, or making the assumption that it is drifting due to neglect based upon the decline in America’s moral values and their seemingly fading belief in God; recently two prominent groups who take and maintain polls regarding Americas religious beliefs reported that the majority of American are more likely to believe in space Aliens than in God.
What is of interest to me, and my personal observation, is when God lifts His blessing from a person, church, or country does not mean that each instantly experiences this judgment, but each continues, however without God’s blessing, where in His drawing back, each will simply begin to collapse under the weight of its self-deception, ungodliness, neglect, or sinfulness; which we can certainly see is happening in America, and unfortunately is what many churches are experiencing these days. We recognize that even though a local church preaches gospel things does not mean that Gods people are being fed with Spirit given nourishment; many in these churches are simply running on religious fumes or energies, having no since or temper of things above nor are they experiencing those many spiritual blessings found In Christ, where they should have been daily dwelling, yet due to the ignorance of their leaders and their teaching many personal lives remain behind the veil.
Therefore, many are jumping on the Christian proverbial band wagon speaking to why these things are happening, where some explain it is the last days, others blame Government, and many are blaming the Church. I throw my hat into the ring that puts the blame upon a drifting from what God had intended in His Son, our abiding place. For decades the Churches focus and attention, and consequently their leaders and assemblies attention has been upon every other thing than upon what had been Gods ultimate intention and had been according to Jesus words and commands, and His specific warning, that is, and briefly stated, love God, love one another, bear fruit unto a holiness of life that is acceptable to God, and if you are going to do any of these things by the grace of God, then be warned, Jesus explained without me you can do nothing. However, many Church builders have never discovered this abiding place and know it only in terms of a written page and certainly not by personal experience, therefore how can they teach it to others.
If our “Church builders” had followed Jesus model, rather than their current business model for growing their assemblies I believe we would see a much healthier Church today among a growing hostile culture that hates us because of what we believe. If your assembly has modeled the gospel after its host culture to the point where the world likes you, than run from this assembly as fast as you can because, If you were of the world, the world would love its own.
One particular area of the Christian life that brings discipline from God is when the Church has overtly adopted and begins to mimic the ways of its host world, adopting its social, political, moral and religious values as opposed to what is revealed in scripture, witnessed and confirmed by the Spirit in us, who works it into every aspect of our and the Churches life. Therefore, God seeks to separate us from the world and the world from us, and the further we move away from the world the greater will be our persecution from it, in other words, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. Recognize that the verse says to live godly In Christ Jesus will bring persecution to those who seek it. Any attempts on our part to live differently causes us many problems because it had always been Gods intent to have a kingdom of priest and a holy nation which I believe is His intended will In Christ. God had initially gathered Israel to Himself setting Moses as their visible leader and communicator of His will to them all. However, what had been Gods purpose for gathering these people? In Exodus we are told,
And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel
Now, in Jesus Christ the Father gathers all things, both old and new, into His Son, and again His purpose has not changed, it is the same, that is, He gathered in Christ a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. However, now in Christ, Christ manifested in this kingdom, His glory, His power, His strength and grace, the Father now provides the inhabitants the ability to do Gods will that His purpose might be realized in His Son.
God works in all of us is to sanctify His children’s hearts from their sin, flesh, and especially the world. What sanctification and discipline can we expect from our heavenly Father? It is according to His word, and He works to this end, that the word He has taken great pains to give to us through His Son might be written upon our hearts, e.g. to love not the world for in it is the lust of the flesh, the eyes, and the pride of life . Why is this love a problem for us, because as John the Apostles contends that If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. God in His mercy and grace works to this end that His love might be in us.
Therefore, what is the primary way the Father uses to detach our hearts from this world and desire the next? It is simply by revealing some of what is in the next, that is, its many virtues like love, peace, righteousness, and joy, and also its glory, in the face of Christ. As the Father begins to reveal His things our heart is drawn away from this world and begins to desire the next, which in comparison, the next is a 1000 fold more desirable. Recognize that according to our Fathers love for us He knows our fallen nature and its propensity to attend to this world therefore He works to sanctify our heart from what displeases Him, consequently, we must cooperate with His work, whether in us or in our external circumstances. What I mean by cooperating is in our agreeing with the voice of the Spirit in us regarding what is revealed to us, that is, that we have an evil heart of unbelief recognizing our hearts corruption and need for sanctification which is not our work but is only the work of God.
And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through [separate you from profane things, make you pure and wholly consecrated to God]; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved sound and complete [and found] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah).
The intent here is that one’s primary focus of heart would always be solely upon Jesus Christ, and certainly not the world, nor the flesh, or sin, But sanctify the Lord God in your heart. Looking unto Jesus in whom the Father… gathered together in one all things, both which are in heaven and which are on earth, placed all spiritual blessings In Him, and in whom the Father put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church… are only a few of many things that the Father accomplished in Christ and to miss these and all other things the Father accomplished is to miss everything pertaining to the realities of a viable spiritual life. Let us not stop at the forgiveness of our sins in Christ, but also that He is our sanctification, But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.
Whenever an individual, group, or the Church begins to drift from the place the Father intended for all of us in His Son necessitates correction, reorientation, and refocus. If you read through the Old Testament regarding Israel and how God had dealt with them, that is, when they began to drift, initially a Prophet was sent to warn them, and if few responded, God would send His judgment as a means to discipline them. When our hearts are not persuaded by God’s grace He sends His correction because He knows our safe place is in His Son.
Drifting from our faith has one primary reason and that is, because we do not know Christ as we should, as He would like us to know Him, in union with Him, knowing a daily fellowship with Him, that is, the want of the knowledge of Him. Not just intellectual knowledge, but more importantly, spiritual knowledge and experience. Therefore, if we are to know Jesus as we should He needs to manifest Himself to us. The Church without this revelation of Christ will continue to wonder and drift from one teaching to another. Errors and misinterpretation of scripture are a consequence of drifting and will continue to be propagated by unscrupulous and spiritually ignorant men and the Church will continue to be divided by such error and lifeless teaching. If the church is to mature spiritually it has to differentiate between the word and the word giver, and learn to abide in the word giver until His words enters into our hearts then the realization of God exceedingly precious promises, in His Son, will be evident.
I Will Manifest Myself
Prior to Jesus death and His last words to His disciples, and as the Apostle John recorded for all of us, Jesus explains what His Fathers intention and will for the disciples would be after His leaving them, that is, that you will know,
At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you
Later in the gospel Jesus explains how it is that the disciples will know that He is in the Father, and they are in Him and He is in them, that is, He would reveal Himself in them, that is, if they would keep His commands which is not legal but goes hand in hand with Jesus Himself, that is it aligns with His heart and mind. Because Jesus is glorified, sits in the kingdom of God this revelation of Him is not as it had been physically, but is spiritual, that is, what is of the Spirits ability to communicate what is the substance of Jesus glory, e.g. initially faith, then peace, love, strength, His mind and heart all begin to arise in the heart. Many look outward for these things but they are meant to be known inwardly, in Christ.
Again, and can be briefly stated, is our means to, not only as we read in the text that we are in Christ, our position in Him, however, it had been Jesus intention for His disciples, as well as the Church, that He would be in them. In them through His Spirit, where He would reveal Himself in a new way and manner if they would obey His given command, and in doing so, all would know an unbroken communion with Him. You cannot speak of knowing Jesus presence without also speaking of knowing His words and commands.
The person who has My commands and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I [too] will love him and will show (reveal, manifest) Myself to him. [I will let Myself be clearly seen by him and make Myself real to him.]
I do not believe that “Christ in me and manifested” can be over stated, because apart from Him, there is no true and genuine progress made unto and according to the Fathers intention in His Son; until the Church understands there can be no Christ in you the hope of glory or unity apart from In Christ, who is in the Father, there can be no genuine unity. One symptom that a Christian, a local church, or denomination is drifting is discord, divisiveness, biting and devouring that begins to manifest amongst Christians. Unity is an expression of the glory of Christ, the glory the Father gave Him, that is, that which radiates from His throne unto His abiding believing saints. Evidence of Christ glory is His Spirit dwelling in men, working to the Son and the Fathers ends, it is the Spirit who communicates the rule of Gods love in men. It is this love that maintains the unity of the Church.
Unity & Glory
That they all may be one, [just] as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe and be convinced that You have sent Me.
Probably through the history of the Church its unity has certainly been I question and a major target and attach by men, the world, and the evil one; all have participated in attempting to invalidate or minimize Jesus words by using everything under the sun to keep the Church from realizing its given unity in Christ. Certainly does disunity continue to impact the Church and until it has a revelation of its abiding relationship with and in the Lord, and the Father in the Spirit, there can be no unity, that they all may be one, [just] as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us.
Any attempt to unify the Church apart from In Christ will be in vain; many have tried and failed, there has been no lasting fruit. Gods power in Christ has been given to heal the sick, raise the dead, and those who possess it can participate in performing many miracles however, this same power does not bring unity to the church, but it is only in Christ and according to His glory from which comes virtue, love, grace, righteousness and holiness. At our new birth, and periodically, all of us had known a little of Jesus glory, which radiates out from His throne, where the Spirit has made His glory known to each of us upon our second birth, albeit but briefly, and sparsely, yet it is this same glory, beholden by the saints that will bring unity. Why is this true, it is true because if the Church sees Him whom has redeemed them in His glory theirs eyes and hearts are taken from off of all other things and are set upon Him only whom the Father has glorified.
And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one
What can we say about Jesus heart, mind, and sacrificial love and His desire to share His glory with us, and in what manner did He demonstrate the Fathers love to His disciples, expressing His unity with the Fathers heart can be heard and understood in His last few words in the gospel of John, prior to His death, when He passionately asks of the Father,
Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.
John Owen, The Glory Of Christ, It is evident that in this prayer the Lord Christ has respect to His own glory and the manifestation of it which He had in the entrance asked of the Father. But in this place He has not so much respect to it as His own as to the advantage, benefit, satisfaction, and blessedness of His disciples in the beholding of it.
Paul confirms in his letter to the Corinthians regarding the glory of the Lord confirming the Lords words, that is, in what manner we might know His life changing glory when Paul writes,
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord
One reason there is little unity is because it is based in the wrong things. The Spirit will always lead us in one direction and according to the Father and the Son; their will, heart, mind, that is to gather their people in one spirit of unity and keep them there. Unification of the Church is through one means only, and that is, the ruling and governing love of God, in Christ. This love is not only heart felt however, it is embedded with much character, intelligence, and discernment, i.e. wisdom in terms of how to treat and walk with one another. This love is communicated and not something one knows by human means. Yes, we are to demonstrate charity however if we want to know unity, it is communicated according to Christ’s glory, that is, it radiates out from Him unto the saints, In Christ.
Paul’s message is clear regarding this matter, where he challenges the Philippian Church to love one another, and is a message that aligns perfectly with Jesus command to His disciples that is to love one another, yet gives some detail in what manner we are to love one another and fulfil Jesus words.
And this I pray: that your love may abound yet more and more and extend to its fullest development in knowledge and all keen insight [that your love may display itself in greater depth of acquaintance and more comprehensive discernment], So that you may surely learn to sense what is vital, and approve and prize what is excellent and of real value [recognizing the highest and the best, and distinguishing the moral differences], and that you may be untainted and pure and unerring and blameless [so that with hearts sincere and certain and unsullied, you may approach] the day of Christ [not stumbling nor causing others to stumble].
When the church gets off course it begins to “bite and devour” one another, and not unlike the Galatian Church, who began to drift due to the errors that some Jewish men were bringing in and propagating in terms of our means to salvation, other than by faith and faith alone. When error begins to arise in local churches you can be sure that, as Paul says, you have cut yourself off from the grace of the Lord. When the Lords grace begins to ebb in our assemblies there is no impetus to love one another, therefore disunity and discord begin to surface and eventually prevail. Because of the self-ambition and self-centeredness of men certainly this does not bear the fruit of righteousness that is meant to glorify God, which had been how the Lord lived His life, and left as an example to the disciples to walk in.
May you abound in and be filled with the fruits of righteousness (of right standing with God and right doing) which come through Jesus Christ (the Anointed One), to the honor and praise of God that His glory may be both manifested and recognized].
Unity and the Lords glory is a high vision and attainment for the Church however all should be moving in this one specific direction. I have to believe that Jesus last words, as recorded in John 13 through 17, are still not far from His heart where I believe He continues to work commensurate with the Father and the Spirit to that end, that is unity, where unity is maintained by the rule of love, that is, God’s love in each Christian. In other words, a love for one another which can only be realized as we abide in the Fathers love In Christ, recognizing that there is no law that governs such love for it is characteristically above any law, that is, if it is truly ruling and governing the Churches collective heart.
I know that there are so many different and demanding voices in the church today, each tossing it from one direction to the other; tossing it from one new scriptural emphasis or doctrine to the other, where no one can truly hear what is on the Lords mind and why is this true, because many have their own specific agendas and not the Lords. The voice and heart of the Lord, that is, what is His vision and goal for His people, which I believe has not changed sense His ministry on this earth, is not received because of all the clamoring voices and opinions that abound, the more voices that attempt to direct the church and Gods people the greater the propagation of disunity which I believe is certainly a means that the powers of darkness uses to keep Gods people apart. If we say we hear the Lord, and that we know His mind and heart, I would expect that those who say they hear and know would have this same mind and heart and would be working to that end instructing Gods people according to Jesus final prayer and commands contained in John 13 to 17. Until those who say they are leaders know the Lords heart and mind the Church will remain in discord. Paul explains what is the Lords intent and heart when he explained,
…until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, [growing spiritually] to become a mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ…So that we are no longer children [spiritually immature], tossed back and forth [like ships on a stormy sea] and carried about by every wind of [shifting] doctrine, by the cunning and trickery of [unscrupulous] men, by the deceitful scheming of people ready to do anything [for personal profit].
A consequence of the beginnings of a drifting from the faith is giving oneself to overt emphasis contained in the text, rather than giving our self, our heart and mind to the word giver.
The Word vs. Word Giver
Consequently, if the Church truly knew their abode, or dwelling place as recorded in scripture, that is In Christ, there would not be the level of disunity and divisiveness in its message, and if they knew in what manner they had been called into a God given fellowship there would not be the level of discord among its members. Why can I say this, because if the Church had been truly in fellowship with the Lord, as it has many times claimed to be, they would know His unchanging mind and heart. If one is truly abiding in Christ, surrendered to His will, not just in word but in deed, and Jesus mind and heart is in them, working, reasoning, promoting spiritual understanding and wisdom unto the renewal of one’s mind, our messages would be the same, and our heart to implement the message, in unity, would be unquestionable as to possessing the intent and motivation of the Lord.
We can believe, that like Jesus earthly ministry and instructions, so it is the same in heaven and communicated to His Church on earth from generation to generation, by the Spirit, unto the unison of the Godhead. The Church, through succeeding generations, should always be moving in one direction, and that is into God, in Christ, anything other than this divine direction is but a drifting church tossed by many voices according to the agenda of men. Recognize that Jesus said He was the true Shepherd who leads His sheep to green pastures, where they feed and become healthy. Also, in like manner, Jesus calls His shepherds, who in return will lead His people into green pastures, where they can feed and be fed growing in spiritual health. A true shepherd is one who can feed Gods people. The church today remains in bad health due to the fact that Gods people remain under nourished and who do not recognize the Shepherds voice…The sheep that are My own hear My voice and listen to Me; I know them, and they follow Me.
I don’t believe we need Prophets to prophesy to us what is now coming upon the Church in the next couple of decades, for the proverbial writing is on the wall, and were moving at the speed of the internet and social media toward a level of hostility coming from this world who is challenging everything that we believe. However, we do need some Prophets to keep those who would continue in the faith from drifting further from it and walking according to Jesus words moving toward an inward condition of heart that is drawing and feeding deeply upon the Lords resurrected life.
I don’t know that my generation will be around to see all that is coming down but the next differently will. Does this mean that Jesus is coming back, is it the “great tribulation” the precursor to the rapture, I don’t believe so, however, categorically what is coming will test the faith of those who profess to be Christians, that is to its validity and stability and will drive those who are approved further into their God, for they know the Shepherds voice, unto possessing more of His grace, that is, possessing from Him the means to an unwavering faith, He is the author. If you think that we are seeing a lot of weird things in the Church today, just keep watching for what is just around the corner, and based upon the error that is already pulling and driving Christians apart and taking them in various directions, this same level of error will grow exponentially, where even the most carnally educated among us will be confused, challenging their personal faith, however, those with Spirit given understanding will not.
Why is this so, it is because the Lord had never intended that we become more educated, theologians, or armchair religious theorist, however, He had intended that we know Him, the good Shepherd and His voice, that is, have a genuine relationship with Him, abiding, and in this unique communion and fellowship with Him we would know His heart, mind, and His presence. Otherwise, our religion is simply hearsay, lifeless, and shakable, worshiping an invisible God, having little substance, and one that is but another religion among many others.
Consequently, what many generations have done is to separate the word, from the word giver, and by doing so and placing the emphasis upon the text only, they have stillbirth children with little spiritual abilities and capabilities to do as the word asks. The caveat here is we cannot obey, grow in faith, and know heavenly things apart from the word giver, where the intended union with the word giver is a mystery that remains just that, an enigmatic paradox that the spiritually illiterate cannot unravel. Due to spiritual ignorance many will continue to mock and misunderstand those who long to be found In Christ, beholding His glory, and are those who suggest that Christ life is in you. The word is meant to lead all us to the word giver that we might know Him as the newness of life and without which there is no source for living His word. Marshall Walter, The Highway of Holiness explains that,
…it is not enough for you to know the matter and reason of your duty, but that you are also to learn the powerful and effectual means of performance, before you can successfully apply yourselves to immediate practice.
Unless we allow the Spirit to convict our hearts of our sinfulness, our self-life, we cannot understand our own poverty of spirit. It is when we see Christ in all His glory can we begin to see we are nothing apart from Him. At this point in our life we can begin to know that apart from Christ we can do nothing otherwise we will continue to drift from Him.
You can do Nothing Apart from Me
Therefore, and again I reiterate, what should have been the primary attention and focus of any person who claims to be a leader in Christ Church; to love God, love one another, recognizing whom all these heavenly things come, knowing the Father has glorified His Son. Jesus during His earthly ministry walked humbly, lowly in heart unto death, however, in His heavenly position He sits on the throne of God, in a kingdom not made with hands, from which shines all His glory. If God has placed us in Him there is nothing that can prevent us from knowing this same glory, In Him.
We should take to heart what it means for each generation to come short of Jesus prayer for unity and glory prior to His death, where He had previously warned His disciples what were the consequences of not dwelling in Him, that is, one who is drifting, Jesus likened to much unfruitfulness. Jesus likened a personal life apart from one dwelling in Him to a withered branch, to be broken off and thrown out, that is, where we see generation after generation of withered branches flung about in the vineyard. Does this have anything to do with hell fire, don’t believe that it does, however, it is an illustration of a personal life, an assembly or even a generation of Christians apart from dwelling In Christ life unto fruitfulness. In other words, and to Jesus point, what good is this withered branch to anyone but to be cast into a fire and burned? Our faith should always be moving us toward one end, that is, into Christ, and to move us otherwise is counter to the nature and character of our God given faith.
Owens again says this, The hearts of believers are like the needle touched by the loadstone, which cannot rest until it comes to the point where it is directed.
Therefore, we must remember and take to heart that without Jesus we can do nothing and to understand this is the work of God upon our hearts, that is, to work in us that we might realize our own personal spiritual poverty in the light of Jesus riches. Why does the Church fail in this manner, it is because it has not received the light of their own personal poverty.
If a person does not dwell in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken-off] branch, and withers; such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and they are burned.
The Church can certainly speak to Johns text, presenting, with much reasoning and arguments from scriptures, that the text says we are In Christ, also, many can speak to the fact that the Father has placed us in Him, they can speak intelligently of it, and even convincing the reasoning mind of it, however, when it comes to one’s daily experience, there is very little insight to be had from many of the contemporary Christian authors, and even less understanding and experience coming from the typical Christian. When Church leadership begins to speak of their own experience of dwelling in Christ and His manifestation in their own life, possibly then, they can share this way to their assemblies leading them into much fruitfulness. When the Pastor knows spiritual nourishment from personally feeding upon the Bread of Life, from His health he can feed others, not unlike the disciples, taking a few loaves and fish and feeding thousands, recognizing who is the source for all nourishment. When you begin to hear and see these things, I believe, we need to look up, for your redemption is near you.
Drifting from the faith primary symptom is a miss interpreting of scripture and minimizing of Christ and His glory. The author of the letter to the Hebrews had admonished these Christians warning them for they had drifted into an error believing that the angels held a greater position and glory than Jesus. The author spent several chapters to explain their error.
The Next Generation
Mark the blameless man [who is spiritually complete], and behold the upright [who walks in moral integrity]; There is a [good] future for the man of peace [because a life of honor blesses one’s descendants]. Psalms 37:37
I listen the other day to a famous religious author interview where his many accolades were mentioned by his interviewer, which included that he had been with a main stream religious tradition for 12 years, had a PHD in religious studies ,and had authored 16 religious books and made this statement that was quite revealing to me, he stated that God is everywhere, and is completely unknowable. Therefore, in the preface above I emphasized having fellowship with Christ, the true mark of a Christian, having a daily relationship with Him. My point is this, someone can go all their life without ever knowing God. They can spend their whole life seeking Him, yet without ever truly knowing Him. This is the dilemma of religion and religious practices apart from knowing Jesus Christ; what you gave yourself to never resulted in an encounter with the living, resurrected, Jesus Christ. John the Apostles in his first letter addressed the error that certain men were attempting to lead many astray, where John explains, that those who truly know the Lord, are abiding in Him, and confess that they have fellowship with Him and through this unique union and fellowship they discovered both the truth and the power in Christ to obey the truth. John says,
He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked…
Therefore the danger one can find themselves in is acknowledging that you know Jesus, yet you do not have the witness of the Spirit in you, it is simply religious rhetoric on your part. Another danger is at one point you had the witness of the Spirit in you, but have drifted from it, which can result in losing your way and following after error, which I fear that my generation has left the next in this state.
Anytime one generation of Christians drifts the next will drift even further. However, what is it that the Church is drifting from, simply and as stated previously, it is from, In Christ, and more specifically it is, Christ in you the hope of glory. Anytime the Church gets overtly preoccupied with every other thing, whether secular, carnal, or religious than its knowing and possessing a genuine abiding union, communion, and fellowship with the Lord, unto bearing much fruit, which is compromised when they begin to drift from what had been Gods redemptive intention in His Son; which He patiently orchestrated in time, and methodically accomplished historically, and paid a grave price for, that His Son might be all and in all.
What is most disturbing to me is how far off course my generation of Christians have gone in terms of where the Lord would have us be and what we should be walking in. As previously mentioned there is much confusion caused by the many voices who are attempting to direct the church today, i.e. there is a lot of miss interpretation of scriptures, much religious activities that seems to be going nowhere, and many things taught and done are just plain weird and bears little to no real fruit. In addition, there is even a growing level of hostility among groups of Christians who cannot agree with each other, nor do they understand each other, and due to a growing deficit of Spirit given understanding and wisdom the level of miss understanding continues to grow and certainly the discernable gospel message has not caused this disunity, but men have. Also, in terms of what must bring unity in heart and mind for Christians is not political, organizational, sectarian, denominational, nor does knowledge of the text or the Church you attend afford one biblical or spiritual unity, but it is by the Spirit, sent from above, where we find our unity.
What is unfortunate is a lot of Christian assembly leaders are giving themselves over to the encouragement of a lot of religious church activities, believing that keeping the saints busy will keep them in their seats, however this activity eventually subsides because people lose interest. They lose interest because what you’re asking them to do had been birth in emotion by some cheerleading preacher and has nothing to do with the activities of the heart, In Christ, thus this initial emotional response bears little to no true fruit in every good work. If you create activity first without establishing people in Christ, there is little fruit to be found. You should not judge all of the activity in your assembly as coming from God, however, and in a lot of cases is simply someone in the pulpit self-ambition, pushing the whole thing along by self-efforts; you can sense the straining, pushing, struggling to make the unmovable to move. It is like pushing your car uphill when it has run out of gas.
You ask why all of the preachers are leaving their churches in America, why all the stress and burn out and in some cases infidelity, it is because the leader first, and then their assemblies, needs to find their resting place in Christ, remembering that without Him we can do nothing. If your relationship with Jesus is just an external one, where He is considered by your side, or in your midst, is without and not within, where comes your inward strength and newness of life, i.e. from a union and communion with Him, who is in you. We live within a generation of Christians who do not or no longer have their inner life touched by the Lord on a daily basis. Many have had a onetime touch but has since ebbed, yet, no one has lead them into a daily abiding relationship of grace and peace.
We should have been a generation of Christians who meditated upon John’s gospel, chapters 13 to 17 until we had received a clear picture regarding what Jesus heart and passion for those whom He loves and cares for is. Certainly after reading Jesus last instruction and attempting to lay this same instruction over top of all the inordinate activities we see and hear coming from local churches today, I believe little will synch or mesh with Jesus heart. If you believe I’m being a little too critical I simply have to point to a couple of statistics that many have gathered regarding this contemporary churches health, e.g. 50% of Christian men are addicted to porn, or if we look at the current divorce rates among Christian couples is the same as the world they live in I think I make my point to just how dysfunctional the church is today and for good reason; i.e. the church is its worst enemy, because it has not attended to the word giver. If these health problems were not enough than simply look at the next generation of Christians that are arising in our midst and evaluate what it is that they are beginning to believe and preach. As fast as this next generation of Christians is changing what they believe, and how they worship, that is, at the speed of Facebook and the internet, the next generation will morph into something that eventually will look nothing like the gospel message we believe in, nor will they be worshiping a Jesus whom you nor I would recognize.
One particular brand of a new Christianity that is finding its way into our local churches is what is called “Progressive Christianity”. I mean, who doesn’t want to be progressive in America? If you’re not progressive, then you are old and outdated and certainly the younger generation does not want any part of being outdated in their worship and interpretation of scripture. If you want to know where Christianity is going in the next few decades then let me list several of the progressive’s major tenants (from ProgressiveChristianity.org):
- Believe that following the path and teachings of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of all life
- Affirm that the teachings of Jesus provide but one of many ways to experience the Sacredness and Oneness of life
- Know that the way we behave towards one another is the fullest expression of what we believe
- Find grace in the search for understanding and believe there is more value in questioning than in absolutes
- Strive for peace and justice among all people
- Strive to protect and restore the integrity of our earth
- Commit to a path of life-long learning, compassion, and selfless love
- Seek community that is inclusive of All people, including but not limited to:
- Conventional Christians and questing skeptics
- Believer and agnostics
- Women and men
- Those of all sexual orientations and gender identities
- Those of all classes and abilities
- Know that the way we behave towards one another is the fullest expression of what we believe
What is disturbing is how there is just enough error and scriptural innuendo intermingled in these tenants so as to miss lead the unstable soul. What I fear is that many, after reading the above tenants, might not disagree and explain these are their own beliefs. These 8 tenants are just a precursor as to what is coming in the future to further delude the gospel message and the deity of Christ.
Another very disturbing statistic regarding the current state of the Church, by the Barna Group, is this, Although a core teaching of the Christian faith is the divinity and perfection of Jesus Christ, tens of millions of Christians do not accept that teaching. More than one-fifth (22%) strongly agreed that Jesus Christ sinned when He lived on earth, with an additional 17% agreeing somewhat. When Christians believe that Jesus sinned we are all in trouble.
One generations drifting from the absolutes of its faith has dire consequences upon the next, i.e. leaving them with only a shell of religion rather than its whole. When the realities of heaven are absence in one generation, local church, or an individual life it will be absent in the next, however, in a more demonstrative expression, or should I say, when there is a vacuum in the previous generation the next will attempt to fill it by reinventing themselves compromising the gospel message.
We are to bow down before the holy word of God however a self-serving self-centered generation of Christians will make the word bow down to their pet interpretations, dysfunctions, sinfulness and lusts rather than their humbly approaching their God asking for His assistance to understand His holy words. When we come to the word of God filled with all of our ideas, presuppositions, scientific theories, personal beliefs, and cultural morality rather than poverty of spirit, in a childlike manner, we close ourselves off from Gods mercies and grace, which are basically His helping hand to every generation. The Spirit working with us, in us, and among us will never compromise Jesus words, and where He finds error, He pulls back His voice.
If my generation has not recognized and remains aloof from Gods promises in His Son how can we expect our children to understand. If my generation had not become embedded in God the Father promises in His Son how can we lead the next into the fulfillment of His promise. If we interpreted Gods promises only as physical, self-centered blessings, worldly which result in no real spiritual realities leaving us empty, certainly will our children abandon such notions?
Another symptom of one who begins to drift is due to the fact that they have not entered into Gods promises in Christ. God’s promises in Christ are not just promises but exceedingly precious promises.
For He established a testimony (a specific precept) in Jacob
And appointed a law in Israel,
Which He commanded our fathers
That they should teach to their children [the great facts of God’s transactions with Israel],
That the generation to come might know them, that the children still to be born
May arise and recount them to their children,
That they should place their confidence in God
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments,
And not be like their fathers—
A stubborn and rebellious generation,
A generation that did not prepare its heart to know and follow God,
And whose spirit was not faithful to God.
Coming Short of the Promises
Many speak of God promises, and when they do, they usually reference the Old Testament, however, in the New Testament we have not only been given promises, but as Peter calls them “exceedingly great and precious promises”, in others words these new promises are far and above what was old.
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
We recognize in Peter’s statement that these promises he speaks of were given in Christ and given for a purpose, that is, that we might be partakers of His divine nature (sinless humanity) and in our partaking of it we can walk anew, and in doing so we escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. In other words in our partaking of Jesus sinless life we walk upright and without sin, for His nature is without sin. Our walk as a Christian in contrast between two things, each opposed to one another. i.e. a dichotomy however, maturity on our part is a matter of proportions, the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, that is, a higher percentage of doing good (good in the sense that which is communicated to us of the nature of Christ by the Spirit) as we mature in our spiritual understanding, knowledge, and capability to partake of the divine nature.
Peter given promises have everything to do with life and godliness, and have nothing to do with your next new car, plane, or money in the bank, or a better marriage and if not realized by one generation moves on to the next. A people in whom the Lord has sanctified their hearts from this world and all of its material things, however, let me caution the next generation, that socialism, nor religious pluralism or cultural inclusiveness is certainly not what Jesus had in mind, however, and as I mentioned previously, that unity in the Church does not come via the world, or its political systems and organizations, it comes only through knowing Jesus Christ and is maintained by the rule of the Fathers love that governs every heart, in Christ, i.e. His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.
Peter given promises have everything to do with life and godliness, and have nothing to do with your next new car, plane, or money in the bank, or a better marriage and if these promises are not realized by one generation they move on to the next. Nor are these promises associated with this world, but have everything to do with, His (Christ) divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.
We see in Peter’s letter that there are two particular virtues that should be multiplying in all of our lives, which I believe are a sign post that indicates we are making real progress in the right direction, that is, if we are truly making any progress in our faith, and if not, we need to ask why. For these virtues are not just written on a page for our reading enjoyment, nor are they simply a greeting that an Apostle has started his letter by, but these are real spiritually tangible substances that we can recognize in our spirits as they are communicated to each of us, daily. In addition, we see from Peter’s letter the reason that these virtues are communicated and multiplied and that is in the knowledge of God and Jesus, in other words, these grow in proportion with our fellowship and communion with the Father and the Son, and not our textual knowledge of them. It is a temptation that due to our information age, to interpret Peter’s words as strictly intellectual rather than spiritual. Believing that as we give ourselves to much study and learning about Jesus and God we make spiritual progress, rather than growing in our personal fellowship with the Father and Son which bears much fruit, however intellectual knowledge bears no spiritual fruit. Intellectual knowledge rather than knowing Christ is why one generation of Christians and their leaders have failed to communicate the realities of their God as they only attempt to teach the knowledge of God, as if it were a curriculum in school. In others words, they knew only the word and not the word giver.
What we have seen and [ourselves] heard, we are also telling you, so that you too may realize and enjoy fellowship as partners and partakers with us. And [this] fellowship that we have [which is a distinguishing mark of Christians] is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (the Messiah)…. And this is how we may discern [daily, by experience] that we are coming to know Him [to perceive, recognize, understand, and become better acquainted with Him]: if we keep (bear in mind, observe, practice) His teachings (precepts, commandments).
The promises that we have been given pertain to life and godliness in our knowledge or knowing Christ. That is, in our growing Spirit given recognition of Him, and beholding His glory and His many virtues as we grow in our union and fellowship with Him, i.e. those things that emanate from Him, to us, via the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ, whereby we have been given promises, exceeding and precious promises that we may be partakers of the divine nature, and by these things we might daily escape the corruption that is in the world through lust; that is, our victory to overcome the world and our own lusts is in Christ. Unless our leaders have walked in these things, and by walking in them, they have shared the same with their assemblies; they have short changed their assemblies, and the next generation of Christians.
Therefore how do you continue in these things, what is your personal test, that in fact, you are making progress and in what manner will these two virtues grace and peace be assured to multiply in you, it is as the Apostles John explains.
Whoever says, I know Him [I perceive, recognize, understand, and am acquainted with Him] but fails to keep and obey His commandments (teachings) is a liar, and the Truth [of the Gospel] is not in him.
Apart from obeying Christ’s commands our fellowship is but hearsay and pretentious. Also, recognize that John is sharing these things among all the error that is attempting to deceive the local Churches that is, John shares in what manner that you can know for certain that you are on the right course, because error is not recognized in your fellowship with the light. Many were attempting to lead Gods people astray, however John sets them on the right course directing them into where you can know what is the truth, where this truth always leads you into a spiritual union with Christ where error cannot. One can claim all kinds of things regarding our salvation however know that if the Spirit does not recognize it there will be no communion and fellowship with the Lord. It is, as John explained, the thing that distinguishes a true Christian from the false and that is a fruitful fellowship with the Son from whence come His mind and heart unto understanding. We are seeking spiritual wisdom and understanding and not necessarily what is intellectual. What is given by the Spirit bears fruit what is given by means of education or much reasoning’s of men cannot enter into the spirit of men. We must become solely dependent upon our Lord for those things we need to keep us in the faith.
Growing in a personal knowledge of the Father and Son is parallel to growing in their light, the light that shines forth of the Godheads glory, holiness, and righteousness and the light that exposes all of our ungodliness, un-holiness, and unrighteousness and certainly is in parallel with the teaching and mentoring daily voice of the Holy Spirit who instructs us in Christ words. These go hand in hand you can’t have one without the other.
The other means to recognize that we are making true progress and what we know is bearing fruit of our relationship and fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is as John explains,
Whoever loves his brother [believer] abides (lives) in the Light, and in It or in him there is no occasion for stumbling or cause for error or sin.
Notice that in Johns letter there were many who were attempting to deceive this Christian community introducing the errors of Gnosticism where any error that is introduced into a local assembly seeks only to divide and causes much schism among the brothers whereas a genuine relationship with the Lord bears one continuing fruit and that is unity, where the rule of love for God, your brother, and your neighbor prevails, again these things proceed from Jesus Christ and not necessarily from more biblical knowledge, or should I say knowing only the word and not the word giver. If one is truly partaking of the divine nature and not drifting from it they will find a love, an Agape, rising within them toward their brother in the faith, otherwise, if there is much error in your life this same error only seeks to divide and cannot bear the fruit of God’s love. We recognize the love that we want to know is God’s love and if we in fact have His love we can love others in terms of the characteristics of this divine love. Jesus said, As the Father hath loved me, so I have loved you. That is, Jesus loved according to the love of God in Him.
Currently there has been a tremendous push toward an evangelized America movement attempting to rally the younger Christians to witness for Jesus, because He is returning soon which is not unlike the same message I received from many leaders, and for the same reason, Jesus is returning soon, however that was 45 years ago. Not too much has changed, nor has the message, except for my generation, a lot of folks had fallen away.
Those pushing this movement are some of the top names in Christianity today. However, what if this is just another movement that eventually fizzles out with a few souls being saved, and few of them remaining. What happens to all those young people that have gathered around the movement with much anticipation emotionally fueled by young cheerleading preachers who have no heart for these kids. Much has to do with entertainment, music and lights, a lot of religious energies expended and a lot of pleas to go out and save someone who is made all fueled by Jesus is returning soon. These younger Christians have not been properly taught and instructed nor are they established in Christ.
Not unlike my generation of new Christians where many fell away never to return, or are those who have been consumed with error or worldliness, the next generation will most likely go down the same path. What happens when the promises given by the movement leaders do not come to fruition, what leg will these young Christians have to stand on to maintain their faith. In fact, as fast as they all came in they will all run out. I can’t help but believing such things simply because the Church has not prepared this younger generations with what is the gospel and a gospel that attempts to lead them into a viable relationship with Jesus Christ. What is interesting to me is the first century church under great persecution had men like the Apostle Paul, John, and Peter to direct their path never had any of these men of God lead them into foolish things. The theme of all their letters to the local Churches had always been one to lead them to Jesus Christ.
Therefore, I’m not surprised to see all kinds of error, false teachings, and many things that in some cases are basically anti-Christ, that is, in some capacity or another are demeaning, diminishing, or cheapening of scriptures and of Jesus, whom the Father has glorified. Our generation has become one of what they can get from Jesus rather than a generation who says how can I daily serve you Lord. I listened to a guy on TV the other day say something like ….Jesus presence is in this place grab your blessing. How pathetic is this statement, how demeaning to the Lord that is if you sit down and think about it for a moment. Is this really all there is for us to grab our blessing from Christ, and had this been the Fathers intention for us? I say No! However, I believe this statement to be an offense to Jesus who lived and gave His life for us and whose desire is to lead us to the Father, and know Him. We have been all given the untold privilege to know Him personally, that is His heart and mind, and especially how He is so passionate about His Father and would do everything in Him to do His will.
Let me finish by quoting a scripture where Paul explains to the Philippian assemblies what it is that His purpose is which I believe that if the Father, Son and Spirit have truly captured the attention and focus of all or our hearts, and what is the true spiritual knowledge of Christ, and what the Church message should be, and what its members should be striving for generation upon generation, and if this is not the case, it is drifting from the intent of its faith.
[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death, [in the hope]
That if possible I may attain to the [spiritual and moral] resurrection [that lifts me] out from among the dead [even while in the body].
Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own.