April 13, 2012, rev. May 11
- - the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. Col. 1:26-28
A Better Way
For years I have written and disseminated articles about a lack of spiritual vitality among American Christians, and our vulnerability in the troubled days to come. Sure, in the midst of the social-justice, Universalist, legalistic and feel-good churches there are many whose pastors preach Biblical messages week after week, but are we truly representing God? Is His agenda our highest priority? Is our dominating sense of identity, “American” or “Christian”? Why aren’t we effective in shaping American life and culture? Are our Evangelical churches actively preparing their people for difficult times and persecution?
One does not need to be a prophet to know that America is in trouble. Many Christians see dark clouds on our horizon but view them from a patriotic-American viewpoint. Others see those clouds and run to the power of Dominionism to help them be “spiritual” in this increasingly dark hour. Such effort will only increase the darkness - - and there is a better way!
It wouldn’t be enough to turn from this false religion and go back to where we came from. Those who have been misled by “another gospel” must join their lukewarm brothers and sisters in repenting. We must together surrender to the rule of God and become authentic bond-slaves of Jesus. That means we need to turn from our love for the world (I John 2:15-17); our disunity; and our many false gods. We must relinquish our right to rule ourselves - - which is the core of what it means to be “born again,” a detail we usually sidestep in our cushy evangelistic messages. (See Lesson 3 here)
Further, we need to be careful that we don’t “throw out the baby with the bathwater.” There are elements in Dominionist circles such as deliverance ministry, healing rooms and more that the church has not given appropriate attention to. We are responsible to help Christian move into spiritual freedom, and we are to pray for the sick, but there are Biblical models and provisions for that. It is to our shame that we would totally reject them, or only be moved to embrace them, as a reaction to Dominionism.
A Better Way
It is time for Christians to decide if we will believe in the “glory” of the supremacy, sufficiency and exclusivity of Christ, as in Col. 1:15-28, and if we are ready to become disciples who walk on the narrow path that we have entered through the narrow gate, as in Matt. 7:13-27. And if we are willing to “take up our cross daily and follow Jesus” as in Luke 9:23-25, in order to receive the Life He promises there.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Gospel of Isaiah 55; of Mt. 4:17 and 10:34-39 and 11:28-30; and Luke 4:18-19; and John 1:1-14 and 3:16-21 and 4:13-14 and 10:7-10. It is the Gospel of Rom. 1:16-17 and 3:21-26 and 5:1-6, and 6:3-14, and the “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” of 10:13. It is the sobering but encouraging Good News of I Cor. 1:18-31. (reread v30!) And the breathtaking “mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people” of Col. 1:26.
Many Christians in America can’t understand these things. They are spiritual truths and are only spiritually understood, as in I Cor. 2:6-16. Worldliness and other false gods have blinded their eyes, and that needs to change.
A God-Focused World View
The first key is that we must learn to view our years on earth, including life itself, from the standpoint of God and His eternal purposes instead of our own selfish interests. This is about Him - - it’s not about us. Such a world view would help us through the relatively petty troubles of today which so often “take us down” spiritually and cause us to be discouraged and depressed. It would equip us to represent God in our world today; help protect us against false doctrine; and enable us to stand in the coming troubles. (I discuss this at length in Part I of the free online book, “The Cosmic Battle and the American Christian.”)
We’ll need to redefine “church” from being an institution (with its “looking good” Christianity), to becoming the functioning Body of Christ. The “church” as we know it will not be able to help Christians stand in the day to come, as considered in “Hastening His Return.” I attempt to define how the Church ought to look, in Part VI, “The New Look” in “The Cosmic Battle and the American Christian.”
Many patriotic American Christians will need to reconsider which battlefront they want to engage in. And there is a fork in the road that some will need to decide about, which probably leads toward their needing to redefine “revival.” Along that line, some will want to reconsider how they define “truth” and determine where they will look for it. And we will be filled with the Spirit. (The most profound thing one can say - - is that it means to be filled with the Spirit. The Spirit of the Living God. Period!)
All who turn to Jesus in this way receive John 3:16 “eternal life.” The otherwise unrelenting thirst of our souls will be satisfied (John 4:13-14). John 7:37-39 “rivers of living water” will flow through us for the refreshment of many others. We will walk in the Light in this dark world (John 8:12). We will know the Truth and the Truth will set us free (John 8:31-32). We will have abundant life (John 10:9-10). In an incredible “rags for riches” exchange we will die to self-defined life and receive God-defined LIFE (John 12:24-26).
We will be able to love the unlovely (John 13:34-35); will find ourselves participating in the “greater works than these” of John 14:12-14; will bear much fruit (John 15:1-8); and will be hated by the world (John 15:18-21); and we will live victoriously by faith regardless of the cost (Heb. 11). All of this and more represents the Kingdom of God on earth in our few years here and it is truly a better way.
Wow - - why not?
Ken Stoltzfus, P.O. Box 228, Kidron, OH 44636 USA
Tel. 330-857-6312 email@example.com
P.S. As I have often written, if we took radical steps now, and “troubles” didn’t come in our life time, there would be no wasted effort because we would have become more of what we ought to have been all along and life would have become so much richer for us!