Posts Tagged ‘Keith Green’

If you have been wondering how and why the church today has become so weak and ineffective, all you have to do is look at what they’ve done over the years.

Churches have repeated the motto: “Every is welcome here.”  This may sound harsh and intolerant, but everyone is NOT welcome into churches! The enemy is very subtle and very seldom plans a direct attack. Like a frog that is slowly boiled in water, he will start so slow so that most will never sense what he’s trying to do until it’s too late.

At first the church welcomed unbelievers into their worship services with open arms. Then in order to make them feel even more welcomed, they allowed them to be part of the congregation by allowing them to join the choir or work in the church nursery. Then they allowed them to teach a Sunday school class. And before you know it, they‘re preaching their unbiblical and humanistic views from the pulpit! 

Haggai dealt with the same problem in his day. This is how he handled it: He asked a priest, “If a man carries consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and it touches bread, stew, wine, oil, or any other food, does that item become holy?’” “No,” replied the priests. So Haggai asked, “If one who is defiled by contact with a corpse touches any of these, does it become defiled?” “Yes, it becomes defiled,” the priests answered. Then Haggai replied, “So it is with this people and this nation before Me, declares the LORD, and so it is with every work of their hands; whatever they offer there is defiled.” (Haggai 2:12-14)

I’m not suggesting that we post guards at the church doors and check people for their salvation. But I am suggesting that we become more discerning on who we invite to worship with us. 

Many have told me that they invite unsaved friends and loved ones to join them at church so they can hear the gospel. Then they need to repent of their laziness and share the gospel with them theirself as Jesus commanded! There is not one place in Scripture where we are commanded to invite unbelievers into a congregation so that they can hear the word of God.

Go ahead and check. I’ll wait.

If you wash your hair, shower and put on deodorant, and then hug a skunk, will the skunk begin to smell good, or will you become stinky? If you are in good health and visit a contagious friend in the hospital, will your good health make your sick friend well, or will his contagious disease make you sick? It is the same with sin. As the apostle Paul wrote: Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33—Taken from Deuteronomy 7:25)

This has been proven true time and time again when our teenagers get “mixed up in the wrong crowd” and get into trouble.

It would do us well to remember Psalm 106: 32-43: “…but they mingled with the nations and adopted their customs. They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them…So the anger of the LORD burned against His people, and He abhorred His own inheritance. He delivered them into the hand of the nations, and those who hated them ruled over them.”

The attitude of most church goers has gotten so bad that it’s hard to tell the difference between those who CLAIM to be believers in Jesus and those who refuse to even acknowledge that God exists! 

So many Christians talk about how we are living in the last days before Jesus returns, but we need to remind each other that judgment will begin in the house of God. (1 Peter 4:17) So let us pray for God’s people to repent and return to God, seek His face and obey His word. 

To obey is better than sacrifice

I don’t need your money

I want your life

And I hear you say that I’m coming back soon

But you act like I’ll never return

Sin has just about wrecked this world of ours—And the Church is not immune to its effects. Just as Israel of old, we too, have forgotten God and replaced Him with our own golden calf. We have bowed down to the idols of humanism, secularism, and government control, and we have reaped the rewards of our actions.

It is probable that a great majority of church members in America today have few convictions against breaking any of God’s commandments. Child sexual abuse has become an epidemic, that the Church rarely speaks out against. (If they speak about it at all) Deception, robbery, and even sexual assaults have become all too common among Christians in both urban and suburban communities across our nation.

A very insidious doctrine has been developed in both Catholic and Protestant theology which has tended to minimize the authority of God’s commandments and moral precepts. It has led many to look lightly upon transgressions and has made sin to appear less objectionable. In fact, sin has become an acceptable mode of life for both youth and adults in the Church. How can this be? Especially among those who profess such high regard for the Bible, and a love for Christ?

This question becomes more significant when we consider the historical position of Christianity toward the Bible’s Ten Commandments. Almost all of the great denominations have confessed that they support the authority of the Ten Commandments, yet very subtle errors of interpretation have crept into the modern Church that has lead to the present state of confused loyalty toward God’s spiritual laws found in the Torah. (The first five books of the Bible) God’s spiritual laws are those that focus on moral precepts and thankfulness to God.

We need to look at God’s spiritual laws and their relation to God’s grace and salvation. It is so easy to accept the popular clichés concerning God’s laws and grace without searching out the biblical facts by which we will finally be judged. We must find authoritative scriptural answers to questions like these: In what sense are Christians free from the God’s law? What does it really mean to be under the law? Does God’s grace nullify God’s commandments? Can a Christian be justified when breaking any of God’s commandments because they are under grace?

We read in Romans that “the wages of sin is death”, (Romans 6:23 ) and that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) We might as well replace the word “all” with our own name. Because according to 1 John 3:4, “sin is the transgression of the law,” and we are all guilty. Whose law did we break? God’s law. The shocking truth is that we are all guilty and under the sentence of death! And and in God’s court there are no plea deals or appeals that can reverse the sentence!

In desperation, many search for a way to be justified in spite of fact that they have broken God’s law. How can the sentence of death be turned aside? Can we atone for our sins by obeying the commandments of God for the rest of our life? Paul gives the answer in language that no one can misinterpret: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight.” (Romans 3:20)

There is a logical reason why works will never justify us. A convicted murderer may serve 10, 20 or even 50 years in prison. But because of good behavior, the warden may reduce his sentence. Then soon after completing his sentence, he can try to justify himself, saying that he paid his debt to society. But his crime will still remain on his criminal record that will follow him for the rest of his life. But suppose his sentence is death instead of 50 years? Can the prisoner then hope for a reduced sentence because of good behavior? Never! Even if he should become a model prisoner for a hundred years, the law would still demand his death.

It is the same with us. We have broken God’s law and the sentence is death. And without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. (Hebrews 9:22) This is why good works can never justify us from the sentence of death. Only the shed blood of Christ can satisfy the sentence of death on us. (Romans 3:25)

Is the Law still binding?

Now we are brought to the question that has created confusion for multitudes of Christians: If the works of the law cannot save a person, is it therefore necessary to keep the law? Apparently this was a burning issue in the early church, because Paul asked the same question in Romans 6:1: “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” In other words, does grace give us a license to disobey the law of God? His answer is an unequivocal No! “God forbid! How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” (verse 2 )

Sadly, Christians have invented their own definitions that not only condone lawbreaking, but teach others to do so as well. (Matthew 5:19) The Bible tells us that sin is violating God’s commandments—the law which has been described as irrelevant today by many modern Christians. Don’t be deceived. Every one of God’s spiritual laws and moral precepts are just as timely and needful today as they were when God gave them to Moses, who in turn instructed his people. And nothing has ever happened to make them less binding than they were when God gave them. In fact, if you study the Bible with an open mind, you will discover that Jesus came to bring the full spiritual meaning and intent the law and making it more comprehensive to us. That’s what he meant when he said that he came to fulfill the law. (Matt.5:17)

Countless sincere Christians have been taught and have accepted the idea that the Old Testament was the dispensation of works, but that the New Testament provides for a dispensation of grace. Under this pretzel logic people were saved by works in the Old Testament and by grace in the New Testament. This is simply not true. There is only one way for anybody to be saved—that is by grace through faith. God will not divide people up between those who got saved by works and those who got saved by faith. Those who entered into salvation in the Old Testament were those who trusted the merits of the blood of Jesus Christ, and they looked forward in faith to the atoning death of Jesus. We look back in faith to the same death and are saved in exactly the same way. (See Hebrews 11) The Bible teaches that the entire redeemed host throughout eternity will be singing the same song of deliverance, exalting the Lamb slain from the foundations of the world. (Revelation 5: 11-13)

Did Jesus give us a “new law”?

Some try to ignore God’s commandments on the basis of the “new” commandments of love that they say Jesus introduced. It is certainly true that Jesus laid down two great laws of love as a summary of all the law, but did he give the idea that these were to replace God’s spiritual laws? The fact is that Jesus was quoting directly from the Old Testament when he gave those “new commandments” proves that he had no intention of replacing God’s commandments. “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) And “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” (Leviticus 19:18) Jesus was merely pointing out the spiritual principles of God’s laws—Unlike the traditions of man taught by the Pharisees. In fact, most of what the apostle Paul spoke about came directly from the Old Testament  Scriptures.

Jesus told a parable of two sons who were asked to work in their father’s vineyard. He asked the Pharisees which son obeyed. After they answered Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do.” (See Mathew 21:28-32)

In 70A.D. the Jew’s Temple was destroyed fulfilling Christ prophecy. (Matthew 24:1-2) The Temple’s sad end slammed the door on the Jew’s sacrificial system. Could it be that God allowed the Romans to destroy His Temple because of  the Jew’s legalistic observance of their traditions and ceremonial-sacrificial laws? Or maybe God just wanted them to realize that He doesn’t live in temples made by human hands. (Acts 7:48) They adjusted, of course, creating new rituals and traditions in their synagogues.

Perhaps that is why God will not destroy the Christian’s houses of worship—Even though they are filled with just as many traditions and ceremonies as was practiced in the Jew’s Temple. Because God knows that we too, would just create new places for our rituals and traditions.

Christians today are no different than the Pharisees when we place traditions above obediance to God’s spiritual laws. Scripture warns against any traditions, customs, precepts, or laws that are in opposition to, or contradictory to God’s commandments. (Deuteronomy 12:31) Customs, rituals, and practices such as Christmas, Easter, or Lent are inventions and traditions of men that Jesus warned against. (Matthew 15:8-9)

We must be cautious of the emptiness of the traditions of men passed down through time—even those from our own forefathers or elders. Because when we place more importance on our traditions than we do on God’s commandments we dishonor God and  turn the grace of Christ into sin. (Jude 1:4)

Remember, there is a thin line between holding onto non-biblical traditions and participating in pagan practices.

There are lyrics to an old camp meeting song that goes:

Give me that old time religion

give me that old time religion

Give me that old time religion

It’s good enough for me

Makes me love everybody

Makes me love everybody

Makes me love everybody

It’s good enough for me

It was good for Paul and Silas

It was good for Paul and Silas

It was good for Paul and Silas

And it’s good enough for me

Many of us grew up in a time where almost everyone went to church services on Sundays. We would sing hymns like the one above, quietly listen to the preacher’s sermon, and we did our best to be good Christians.

America is a wonderful place to live. Here we have religious freedom to express our beliefs and worship according to our faith. But times have changed. According to a recent survey by Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the number of Protestants has fallen below 50 percent for the first time in American history and many U.S.-born Catholics are leaving the church. The survey also revealed another startling fact: the number of people who are not affiliated with any faith at all rose four percent in just the last five years and nearly 20 percent of the population said that they are of no specific faith at all!

Why is this? 

I believe it’s partly because we have focused too much on symbols of Christianity  rather than the underlying reality they represent. Christians have fought to place the Ten Commandments in courtrooms and Christmas Nativity scenes outside town halls. We have sued over public prayers and crosses in state parks. Schools have been dragged into court over prayer at football games and whether students should be allowed to post Bible verses on their banners.

Instead of spending time fighting the courts over our “religious rights”, I believe we need to go back to the basics of living as disciples of Christ and demonstrating the Gospel in tangible ways within our schools, workplaces and communities.

Instead of unifying believers, Christ has become a symbol of discontentment and divisiveness. Theologians publicly humiliate each other, pastors hatefully condemn those they disagree with and denominations are split over minor differences.

Professing Christians are now using Facebook and Twitter as platforms to spread hurtful comments, derogatory posts and vicious attacks and to spew degrading opinions and gossip—often without provocation. Accusations of being a “heretic” and “false prophet” are freely given to various individuals who simply have new, bold or different ideas.

While I would be happy to see the Ten Commandments back on the courthouse wall, the fight over symbolic issues is backfiring, alienating people from the truths of the Bible rather than attracting them to it. The kind of Christianity the world responds to is the authentic “love your neighbor” kind. This is something that can’t be legislated through court battles and neither can the courts stop it from spreading.

Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” American Christians have forgotten how to dialogue and respectfully disagree. We’ve abandoned concepts like grace, humility and love and have devolved into critics instead of encouragers, instigators instead of peacemakers, debaters instead of friends, and reactionists instead of innovators.

Our fast-paced culture of celebrity worship and entertainment has trumped our ability to patiently meditate, pray and reflect. We ignore God’s meaningful truth in the Bible and instead clamor over hollywood celebrities and place Christian entertainers on pedestals as if they were gods to be worshiped!

Today Christians have made salvation as simple as parroting a simple prayer. But we neglect to do what Jesus commanded us to do and have forgotten that our salvation cost him his very life! How different would the world be if Christians understood that our ultimate reward at the Resurrection is based on our actions—what we do, how we conduct our life, and how much we ministered to others—instead of offering this exceptionally generous “Get Out of Hell Free” card?

Jesus also said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) [See also John 14:21, John 14:23, John 15:10, and 2 John 1:6]

But today Christianity credits what you believe far above what you do. This idea is the reason that the Catholic church could consider itself to be Christian during the scourges of the Inquisition and other atrocities committed by them.

Years ago Keith Green caused a great stir among Christians when he published an article titled, “What’s Wrong With The Gospel?”

In it he writes, “Now, because of our dilemma in finding ourselves to be such numskulls, and seeing the demands of Jesus, we have invented some pretty interesting and caraaazzeey doctrines. Some Christians have said, “Well, when God looks at us, He doesn’t really see us anymore, He sees Jesus instead. And when there’s ever sin in our hearts, if God should happen to look at the wrong moment, He’ll see a smiling face of Jesus there, instead of seeing our sin. So God sees me as holy – even though I’m not! But…I really am…er, well, you know what I mean!” (I don’t happen to believe that God is that easily fooled, not even by Christians.)”

The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 2:13, “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” You see, the Bible not only teaches us to love God and others, but that we are to obey His commandments as well!

Christianity is more than just a word that describes your culture. To be a true Christian you actually have to live a Christian life! “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) But if you attempt to debate this truth from the Bible, most believers will try to stop you. Because they want you to believe the way THEY believe. Some may preach, argue, get angry, and even threaten you. Why? It’s all written in their own Bible, but most won’t look it up.

I didn’t write the Bible. And I’m not responsible for what the Bible documents. I only read it and pass on what I have discovered. But no matter how often I emphasize this, people still tend to blame the messenger for the Bible’s content. And blame is  a no win game.

“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.” (Deuteronomy 30:11-16 Emphasis mine)

Why America is no longer great

Last year I posted a blog titled, “An Open Appeal For Revival”. It was copied from a letter that I had sent many years ago (before the popularity of the internet) to almost every pastor in my town with the hope that they would begin preaching on the subject. I also mailed copies to several famous radio evangelists.

Sadly, I received no response.

Since then I have often wondered, “Why is there no revival today?”

Anyone who reads a local newspaper or watches the evening news will have to admit to the fact that America is in deep trouble.

We’ve replaced the Bible and prayer in our public schools with metal detectors and police security; We’ve given up the security of family values and replaced them with immoral ideas and attitudes; We’ve traded the value of honest work for enslavery to a bureaucratic government system of relief; Sanctity of life is no longer fought for, and more often is legislated against; Our children have become uncontrollable beasts who murder without conscience; And those who were designed to help us, protect us and be examples for us—from parents and teachers to the local minister on up to the President, have instead led us to the brink of destruction.

And yet, people still believe that if we just elect the right person, he or she will make our country great again.  But Psalm 146:3 states: “Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” (NAS) I like how this verse translated in the New Living Translation: “Don’t put your confidence in powerful people; there is no help for you there.”

For decades, instead of putting their trust in God, people have put their confidence in powerful people—and discover that there is no help from them. Consider who the candidates for the next presidential election are. One of them who is leading in the polls is a man who is narcissistic, brash, insulting and often goes into obscenity laced tirades against anyone who disagrees with him. Another one is promising a political nirvana where the government will take care of everyone—from education, to healthcare, to job equality. Many of the other candidates have been so busy attacking each other that the real issues get lost in the shuffle.

In his book, “Why Revival Tarries” Leonard Ravenhill writes:

“Solemnly and slowly, with his index finger extended, Napoleon Bonaparte outlined a great stretch of country on a map of the world. ‘There,’ he growled, ‘is a sleeping giant. Let him sleep! If he wakes, he will shake the world.’ That sleeping giant was China. Today, Bonaparte’s prophecy of some one hundred and fifty years ago makes sense.

Today Lucifer is probably surveying the church just as Bonaparte did China. One can almost behold the fear in his eyes as he thinks of the Church’s unmeasured potential and growls, ‘Let the Church sleep! If she wakes, she will shake the world.’ Is not the Church the sleeping giant of today?”

Years ago Keith Green recorded his song, “Asleep In The Light” about how the Church has become so comfortable in their salvation that we have become oblivious of the suffering and danger all around us. It is as pertinent now as it was then.

America cannot be great again without repentance! 

Year after year we have all heard the sound bites of presidential candidates promising to make America great again. But without repentance, all they are are useless sound bites.

Repentance means more than just being sorry. Someone once said that the road to destruction will be paved with the souls of the sorrowful. I’m sure that all of the fallen angels are sorry now that they followed Satan in his failed revolt against God.

There are two types of sorrow. There is worldly sorrow—like when someone is sorry they got caught, but not for their actions. We have seen this time and time again with political leaders. They tend to speak about the consequences of their sin but never take responsibility for the sin itself. Godly sorrow is when someone is truly sorry for their actions and the nature of their sin; and also take responsibility for it. (See 2nd Corinthians 7:10)

Results of true repentance will be a new life washed clean by the spirit of God. The person repentant of sin will no longer be pleasing themselves but will strive to please God and others. Those things that were once important to the flesh will no longer matter as much. Those who truly repent will work at making a better home, a better workplace, a better community, and a better world.

All of the reasons why America is not experiencing power and greatness today can be explained with one word: REPENT!

Consider the prayer of the prophet Daniel:

Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, and to all the people of the land.To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you.To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by walking in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets. (Daniel 9: 3-10)

Notice that Daniel confessed the sins of his kings and princes as if they were his own! We must come to God now and acknowledge our sin to him—And the sins of our leaders, past and present as if they were our own!

We are in critical condition and are in need of true revival by the spirit of God! We need to stop relying on political leaders and surrender ourselves to God and receive His forgiveness and mercy. Only then will America be great gain.

Until the Church repents of her sins and turns from her wickedness, we will never witness the healing of our land:

“Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters, they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward…Come now, let us reason together saith the Lord. Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land, but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword. For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”  (Isaiah 1:4, 18-20)

I don’t think the world has ever been in a greater sense of turmoil than it is at this moment. I don’t think our nation has. All the blasphemy, all the unbelief, all the dirty stories, all the lying, all the deception, all the sexual perversion, and all the drunkenness—this tremendous iniquity goes up in the sight of God. The shadow of darkness and death is over this generation like nothing we’ve ever had before. And yet, the greatest tragedy of all is this: We have neither the vision nor the passion, nor at this moment, the intention of setting our house in order.

We need to learn from history what happens when people forsake God.

When Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king’s house, and surveyed all that he had successfully accomplished, Solomon celebrated by throwing a gigantic party and feast for eight days!

Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments that I have set before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from my land that I have given you, and this house that I have consecrated for my name, I will cast out of my sight, and I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. And at this house, which was exalted, everyone passing by will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ Then they will say, ‘Because they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers who brought them out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods and worshiped them and served them. Therefore he has brought all this disaster on them.’  (See 2 Chronicles 7:14:11-22)

Could it be that the reason America is no longer great, that our leaders have become weak and scorned by other nations is because we, like Israel of old have forsaken the one true God and held onto other worldly gods?

Remember God’s warning to His people through the prophet Isaiah:

“Woe to the sinful nation, a people whose guilt is great, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on Him. Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted. From the sole of your foot to the top of your head there is no soundness—only wounds and welts and open sores, not cleansed or bandaged or soothed with olive oil. Your country is desolate, your cities burned with fire; your fields are being stripped by foreigners right before you, laid waste as when overthrown by strangers…Take your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right; seek justice…If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the good things of the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (See Isaiah 1:2-20)

It is my hope and prayer that America, just like Nineveh of old, will repent of its sins—from the president on down to the youngest child. And we will be saved from God’s wrath. (Jonah 3:1-10)

In the midst of a very turbulent and discouraging time in our nation’s history, God intervened in a supernatural way during a five-year period from 1968 to 1973. A grass roots spiritual movement burst forth on the scene with a spiritual explosion that revolutionized millions of lives.

By most accounts, the revival of the ‘70s began in 1967 with the opening of a small storefront evangelical mission called the Living Room in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district that catered to the unchurched hippie generation of the day.

Within a short time, a number of independent Christian communities sprang up all across North America spawning a number of other Christian coffeehouses  and “street ministries” as well.

New converts began enthusiastically pointing their one-way finger heavenward and hitting the streets to tell others about a living, dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ. They were baptized—many in rivers and in the ocean. They found themselves gathering informally in coffee houses where they shared testimonies about the living God. Like wildfire this move of God spread across the country from city to city. And this was before the advent of cell phones, computers, smart phones, tablets, Facebook, Twitter and other social media!

In order to proclaim the message of the gospel, these new Christians, referred to as Jesus Freaks, simply adopted existing forms of communication. Christian publications with names like Right On!, The Fish, Street Level, and Cornerstone became a fundamental component of each street Christian community.

Realizing the need to open their churches to these “Jesus Freaks”, many conservative pastors recruited hippie liaisons to their ministerial staff. People like Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel, in Santa Ana, California, soon found their churches being radically transformed.

The revival of the 60s and 70s also birthed many prolific writers such as Leonard Ravenhill, Winkie Pratney, David Wilkerson and many others who influenced many who were involved in the revival.

Another development was Jesus Music, the controversial combination of rock music and the gospel as one of the most effective—and subsequently the most lasting, result of the revival.

There has been a long legacy of Christian music connected to the Jesus movement. Jesus music, also known as Gospel Beat music in the UK, primarily began when some hippie and street musicians of the late 1960s and early 1970s converted to Christianity. They continued to play the same style of music they had played previously but began to write lyrics with a Christian message.

Many music groups developed out of this. Most notably: Barry McGuire, Second Chapter of Acts, Petra, Phil Keaggy, Randy Stonehill, Keith Green, Glenn Kaiser and the Resurrection Band, and Larry Norman. Many of these artists traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, performing in festivals held underneath giant tents.

As Christian coffeehouses and Jesus music festivals emerged as a popular alternative to popular rock music, many mainstream church-goers lamented that this Jesus Music was a spiritual compromise and a trick of the devil to entrap young people. But these pioneers of Christian music maintained that they were combating the negative influence of mainstream rock music. In an attempt to develop an apologetic for their evangelistic efforts they echoed the sentiments of reformer Martin Luther when he asked “why should the devil have all the best tunes.”

So what happened? Why did the revival of the 1970s die?Long-haired evangelists, and Jesus rock musicians were portrayed throughout national magazines like Time, Newsweek, Life, Rolling Stone, and U.S. News & World Report. In 1971 the Jesus People were the religious event of the year while ranking third in Time Magazine’s story of the year. Press articles, and other media reports all detailed various facets of what was now being called the  “Jesus movement.”

With Watergate and President Nixon’s promises to end the war in Vietnam dominating the front pages, the cynicism born of societal fears towards “cults” and their “brainwashing” techniques made evangelism a less fruitful endeavor than it once had been.

Soon those involved in the revival began to believe the world’s description of the revival as a “movement” rather than a move of God. And as the revival came to an end, Jesus People groups either disbanded, or joined the institutionalized church, following traditions of men as though they were doctrines of God. (Matthew 15:8-9; Isaiah 29:13 ) Sadly, many simply returned to their countercultural roots of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

And those who stood firm in their faith and followed the truth of God’s Word have been labeled legalistic or fanatical.

Leonard Ravenhill was one of those who were labeled too fanatical. Ravenhill argues in his book “Why Revival Tarries” that, “We do not have revival for the simple reason that we really don’t want revival. We are simply too contented, too smug, too self-satisfied, and too carnal. Our hearts are not broken and we do not earnestly long for a powerful move of God.”

Ravenhill reminds us that “As the Church goes, so goes the world. The world is in a mess because the church is in a mess. And the church is in a mess because so many of its leaders and preachers are in a mess: The tragedy of this late hour is that we have too many dead men in the pulpits giving out too many dead sermons to too many dead people.”

Until we are broken and repentant, we will see no fresh move of God’s Spirit. As Leonard Ravenhill says, “The church must first repent; then the world will break! The church must first weep; then our altars will be filled with weeping penitents.”

Like John the Baptist, Leonard Ravenhill was a voice crying in the wilderness as he continued to preach, “This generation of preachers is responsible for this generation of sinners.”

Strong words, but true. Our problem is ourselves and our spiritual leaders. We need to break up our fallow ground and seek God’s truth and his righteousness. (Hosea 10:12) That is what happened during the revival in the 70s. People rejected man’s religion and returned to the practices of the early Church.

We simply cannot keep blaming the world and others for all our troubles because In many ways, we have only ourselves to blame. So let’s humbly learn lessons from the errors of the past and seek God with passion so that he, in our time, might be merciful, and revive us again, however and through whomever he sovereignly chooses.

“From the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt. And for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame, as it is today. And now for a little while grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage.” (Ezra 9:7-8)

There is no question that we are reaching a tipping point and a place of desperation in our land. I pray that God will leave us a remnant and bring a fresh move of God before the clock runs out.

 

Many Christians today believe that this world that we now live in—with all of its rules and regulations, sin and evil, will only be changed after Jesus returns and establishes God’s Kingdom on earth.

But when the Pharisees demanded answers concerning the kingdom Jesus preached, He answered, “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:20-21)

So if the kingdom of God is within us, why do Christians today still desire the things of the world? Do you not know that what is deemed valuable and important in the eyes of men is meaningless in the sight of God?

Consider what the apostle John wrote: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

So what are the things that people in this world look up to or consider valuable? The number one thing is probably money. But what does the Bible say about the love of money? “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” (1 Timothy 6:10)

Think also about some of the people today that are highly esteemed in man’s kingdom: Business owners, lawyers, judges, politicians, bankers and the like.

All of those occupations and more, are meaningless in the kingdom of God because in the age to come, they will cease to exist!

In Daniel 2:44-45 we read: “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”

Jesus is the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands—the very stone which the rebellious builders rejected. And he will break into pieces every worldly kingdom that exists, from the gold down to the clay.

But if God has already rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of sins,(Col. 1:13) then together we have already become a holy nation, to show forth the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. (I Peter 2:9)

The kingdom of God has not been given to rebels who reject the chief Cornerstone, but it is given to the holy nation so that it bears spiritual fruit. (Matt. 21:43)

Consider when the authorities of the time who sought to condemn Paul and Silas (And others who listened to them) for preaching the gospel of Jesus. Some of the Jews were jealous, so they sent some “lewd fellows of the baser sort” to search for Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have turned the world upside down have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house! They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” When they (The unbelieving Jews) heard this, they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go. (From Acts 17:1-9)

The word which has been translated “the baser sort” is the same word used in Hebrew to signify shel goyim, or judges of the Gentiles. These were probably a lowly type of lawyer, what we would call bloodsuckers, or attorneys without principle who defend criminals and bring trifle disputes and litigations among people for personal financial gain.

This is precisely the same way that persecution against the truth and followers of Christ is still carried out. Some wicked man hires a wicked attorney and hauls the minister of Christ into court in front of some wicked judge who knows as little about the minister as he does about the Gospel.The preacher is fined or imprisoned, his hearers may suffer the same fate for listening to that Gospel which has not only made them wise unto salvation, but also made them peaceable and orderly citizens, and which would have had the same effect on the judge, the the attorney, and the mob, had they heard it with the same reverence and respect. This is the case which frequently occurs where the Gospel is preached in its spirit and power.

The description of turning the world upside down, is an excellent description of what the Kingdom of God should look like as compared to the world we live in today. But how many of us have sought help from man’s kingdom rather than seeking God’s kingdom? We seek help from attorneys; from our congress; from our senators; we become active in our political process and become involved in community programs, believing it will change our world for the better.

Sam Shoemaker has written on this subject: “The rise of statism in our time is the natural result of the longing of godless, unchurched people for some kind of protection. When we lose to God we turn to what looks like the next most powerful thing, which is the state. How bad a choice that is, let Germany and Russia in recent years testify.”

Matthew 6:33 tells us to “Seek FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” AND THEN, “all these other things will be added to you.” But most Christians today have it backwards. They want “all these things” first, AND THEN they will seek the kingdom of God.

John the Baptist preached, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”  But is it now not at hand? Is not the King seated on His holy throne? Is not this why we plead with men and women to be reconciled to God through the death and resurrection of His Son?

Yet despite the obvious benefits, mankind still refuses to change and fights vigorously against the Kingdom of God. The primary reason why the world is the way it is today is because the Bible clearly shows us that Satan rules this world. (See John 12:31, 14:30 and 16:11) So it should be no surprise to us that the world is becoming more and more wicked and depraved. For if Satan is ruler of this world, he will also make sure to place his followers in key positions in high places of governments. (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)

We do not see the world being turned upside down today because too many Christians are still in love with the world and its system. That is why the apostle Paul, quoting the prophet Isaiah said, “What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. And, I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:16)

If only Christians would stop and reflect on these things, many deceptions about culture, race and class would be cast down by the knowledge of God.

In his upcoming book, “The Unknown Kingdom of God” https://universityofhardknocks.academia.edu/TimPrice my friend Tim Price writes: “We need to dig deeper and listen to God! We need to discern truth from error! We need to see that comfort, belonging and cultural acceptance are not items that Christ ever sought or promised those who follow him! We need to go back to the Bible and see God’s purposes that are planned in scripture but have become obscured because we have raised other points to such a pitch that God’s intent is drowned out! The love of theology and systems of thought have blinded us to God’s purposes! Reformers of the 17th century were mostly correct when they espoused sola scriptura [scripture only]! They should have paid attention to their own admonition and completed the work that God called them to do instead of investing in their own voluminous interpretations of scripture, and maintaining the institution calling itself “church” as a cog of the systems of the unbelieving world around them instead of the alternative God purposed: the kingdom of God.“

My intent is not to judge or diminish what you may understand of Scripture. My prayer is that this will encourage you to keep seeking God and His kingdom and add to your own knowledge so that together we may once again turn the world upside down for Christ!

I want you here with Me

But you’ve been keeping other company

You can’t sit still, it’s plain to see

You love the world and you’re avoiding Me

Keith Green (October 21, 1953 – July 28, 1982)

 

 

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

As Christians we are quick to laud the accomplishments of revivalists, evangelists and Christian musicians—creative people whose ideas have transformed our world. We celebrate the great innovators of the gospel; from Charles Finney to Billy Graham to Keith Green and Rich Mullins—viewing their work for the Lord as an asset to Christendom. We speak highly of these innovators who spoke the raw truth from the Bible and we say that we would love to follow in their footsteps.

But it’s all a lie. This is the thing about speaking God’s truth; no matter how creative or innovative you may be in presenting it, it is rarely acknowledged. Most people don’t actually like it. People are biased against boldness and creative thinking—despite all of their insistence otherwise.

The internet is filled with biographies of great men and women of God who thought outside of the box in order to bring the gospel to their generation and how God rewarded them for their faithfulness. We think of these people in a heroic manner, and we celebrate them, but when confronted with the opportunity to do the same, we shrink away in fear.

That’s because most people are risk-adverse. As much as we celebrate those who boldly speak the truth in love, most Christians avoid stirring things up—especially if it means the possibility of being rejected by fellow Christians. (Or their worldly friends)

Take Keith Green for example: At the height of his career many Christians looked to Keith as a type of prophet. Many would symbolically pat him on the back and admire him for his boldness, but could never imagine themselves doing the same thing for fear of rejection. But to Keith rejection actually facilitated his creative process—and drew him even closer to God.

Rejection is a common and often infuriating experience for a person who is completely sold out to God. I have watched people with the most interesting and “out of the box” ideas get ignored or ridiculed by the Church in favor of those who repeat an established tradition.

“Everybody hates it when something’s really great,” says essayist and art critic Dave Hickey. He is famous for his scathing critiques against the art world, particularly against art education, which he believes institutionalizes mediocrity through its systematic rejection of good ideas. Art is going through what Hickey calls a “stupid phase.”

This is also true within the Church. We tend to find the easy way out—either by not engaging in boldly speaking the truth or by completely conforming to those who we believe will be evaluating us.

Unfortunately, the place where our boldness goes to die is the place that should be most open to it—the Church. Historically, pastors overwhelmingly discriminate against those in their flock who are knowledgeable in Scripture and desire to boldly speak God’s truth, favoring instead those who more readily follow directions and do what they’re told.

All of this negativity isn’t easy to digest, and rejection can be painful in some of the same ways physical pain hurts. But there is a glimmer of hope in all of this. Rejection is not actually bad—and can even facilitate even more boldness. Godly men in the Bible, from the prophets of the Old Testament, to Jesus and the apostles, were constantly rejected by their own people. So if you are boldly speaking God’s truth from Scripture and feel that you might not belong, the act of being rejected confirms that you’re doing what’s right in the sight of God. Rejection can liberate you from the need to fit in and allow you to pursue God’s interests rather than man’s.

Perhaps for some, the pain of rejection is like the pain of training for a marathon. Believe me; you’re going to need it! A marathon runner trains their body and mind for endurance by constantly pushing themselves beyond their limits.

“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27)

God’s truths sometimes take a very long time to be accepted. The more God’s truth contradicts Church tradition, the longer it might take. Even the work of Nobel Prize winners was commonly rejected by their peers for an extended period of time.

To live boldly for God is a choice. You must make a commitment in your own mind and with the possibility that you will not be accepted. You have to let go of satisfying other people—often even yourself.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)
Leonard Ravenhill Biography:

As a young man in my 20s, I turned to Jesus and became a Christian. As a singer/songwriter myself, one of the biggest encouragements I had was the Christian music of the 70s and 80s. Christian artists back then shared strong views of Christian values and recorded direct, uncompromising music that confronted the world (And the Church) with the message of the Scriptures.

Larry Norman, who is considered to be the godfather of Contemporary Christian Music, became a Christian at the age of five. In 1969, Capitol Records released Larry’s first solo album, ‘Upon This Rock’. Because Larry and his music was denounced by various television evangelists and Christian radio stations, Capitol deemed the album a commercial flop and soon dropped him from their label. So in 1970, Larry established his own record label, One Way Records. He released two of his own albums, ‘Street Level’ and ‘Bootleg’ on the label as well as Randy Stonehill’s first album, ‘Born Twice’.

Throughout his career, Larry had a contentious relationship with the mainstream Christian church and with the Christian music industry in general. He wrote in September 2007, “I love God and I follow Jesus but I just don’t have much affinity for the organized folderol of the churches in the Western World.” Larry Norman’s music addressed a wide range of social issues, such as politics, free love, the occult, the passive commercialism of wartime journalists, and religious hypocrisy, that were outside the scope of his contemporaries. He often complained that Christian music generally meant “sloppy thinking, dishonest metaphors and bad poetry.” He also criticized what he saw as the “commercialization of Christian music in America”. In 2008, Christian rock historian John J. Thompson wrote, “It is certainly no overstatement to say that Larry Norman is to Christian music what John Lennon is to rock & roll or Bob Dylan is to folk music.” Larry Norman died at 60 years old on Feb 24, 2008 of heart failure.

Steve Camp was well-known for his strong views that Christian musicians are called to make direct, uncompromising music that confronts the world with the message of the Scriptures. He is well-known for his strong views that Christian musicians are called to make direct, uncompromising music that confronts the world with the message of the Scriptures. In 1998 following Martin Luther’s 95 theses, he sent out his own ‘107 Theses’ calling for a reformation in contemporary Christian music. Steve Camp has been the pastor at The Cross Church in Palm City, Florida since June 2009.

Keith Green is best known for his strong devotion to Christian evangelism and challenging others to the same. Often considered controversial for his frequently confrontational lyrics and spoken messages, among his most notable songs were, ‘Asleep in the Light’, ‘So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt’ and ‘To Obey is Better Than Sacrifice’.
In 1979 Keith negotiated a release from his contract with Sparrow Records and initiated a new policy of refusing to charge money for concerts or albums. His album, ‘So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt’ was offered through mail-order and at concerts for a price determined by the purchaser for whatever they could afford. By May 1982, Keith had shipped out more than 200,000 units of his album – 61,000 for free.

Rich Mullins and his work with the group Zion were first noticed by Christian music superstar Amy Grant. The inclusion of his song ‘Sing Your Praise to the Lord’ on Grant’s ‘Age to Age’ album in 1982 soon lead to deals with Reunion Records and the start of a successful career as a songwriter and singer. The profits from his tours and the sale of each album were entrusted to his church, which divided it up, paid Mullins the average salary in the U.S. for that year, and gave the rest to charity. Mullins was also a major supporter of Compassion International and Compassion USA.

His faith can be understood by a quote he gave at a concert shortly before his death. He stated that: “Jesus said whatever you do to the least of these my brothers you’ve done it to me. And this is what I’ve come to think. That if I want to identify fully with Jesus Christ, who I claim to be my Savior and Lord, the best way that I can do that is to identify with the poor. This I know will go against the teachings of all the popular evangelical preachers. But they’re just wrong. They’re not bad, they’re just wrong. Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in a beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken-hearted.” Rich had numerous hit songs to his credit including, ‘Hold Me Jesus’, ‘Step By Step’, and ‘Awesome God’. Sadly, Rich’s career was cut short by an automobile accident that took his life on September 19, 1997, in Illinois.

Christian Music Today
Music itself, apart from lyrics, is neither good nor evil. It is how it is used that makes it good or evil; much like a kitchen knife. In the hands of a cook it is a useful and necessary tool, but in the hands of a murderer it becomes a weapon that kills. Music is the medium that mirrors the heart of the composer, singer, instrumentalist, or listener. Therefore, if the heart is sensual then the music will reflect the same. If the heart is rebellious then the music will reflect rebelliousness. But if the heart is spiritually minded then the music will reflect Godliness.

Christian music used to teach the doctrine of Christ as revealed in God’s Word. Its lyrics echoed the attributes of God. It was characterized by the Godly presentation of musicians’ lives in public appearances in concerts as well as their private lives. Christian musicians used to emulate true Godly attributes as defined in God’s Word.

So what happened to Christian music?
Why has it departed from following its true form? No longer does Christian music attempt to characterize Godly attributes, but more often it characterizes worldly feelings through sensual rhythms and vocals. Most Christian artists today spew out a mix-mash of pseudo-religious, moral platitudes and vague, pious feelings in their lyrics on stage.

Sadly, young Christians today have become enamored with this pseudo-Christian music because of its sensual fleshly appeal, and defend its “spirituality” with great vigor and apparent offense. As music mirrors the heart of an individual, so does this pseudo-Christian music reflect the carnal condition of the hearts and minds of such persons.

The Bible teaches, “For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” (Gal. 5:17)
The fleshly music used in many Christian songs today and are absorbed daily by many Christians is contrary to the work of the Holy Spirit. “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Eph. 4:29)

One only has to scroll through the posts of Christian artists on Face Book, Twitter, or the numerous other social media sites to see that most Christian musicians are more concerned in promoting themselves than they are in promoting godly desires. Recognition of the fact that such corrupted use of Christian music is displeasing to God and will demand repentance from the usage of it as well as repentance from the carnal condition of the soul. Then replacement must follow-replacement of corrupted music with true Christian music.

God chose me to show the world that He’s not impressed with our talents or intellect. When we see ourselves in the light of His glory, we can only fall down in grateful thanksgiving and praise.

I pray that God will raise up more Christian musicians who live uncompromising lives committed to God and the ministry of Jesus; with songs from the Spirit and making music from their hearts to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:19)

I Will Not Go Quietly

What is discipleship and what is Jesus calling us to do in Matthew28:18-20? Is this a command, or a suggestion? Does it mean the same as evangelism? Does it mean we are to lead others and teach the precepts of the Scriptures and the character of our Lord? Does it require obedience and action on our part, or are we disciples just by being a Christian in a church on Sundays?
This passage at the end of Matthew’s Gospel is what is called the “Great Commission.” Unfortunately, this is also the great failure of the church! This is the main call to the Church from our Lord and Savior, and is the one thing most believers do not do at all!

If this is the main reason for a church to exist, and yet churches don’t teach people the basics of the faith and move them deeper into the precepts of His love and Word, how can most Christians understand how to live out their faith? They will not be able to handle problems, witness, share their faith, or grow effectively spiritually, because no one is modeling, or showing them the way! Some churches do a great job with evangelism, but once the people come in, they are stored on membership records and stay comfortably in the pews. Where is discipleship?

Being a disciple encompasses more than just parroting a simple prayer and asking Jesus to come into your heart. Our conversion, our acceptance of Jesus as Savior is only the beginning into the faith and the Christian life. But it is not the only act of being a Christian. That would make the Church no different than joining a health club, but never working out! It goes far beyond Baptism. Baptism is only our profession and testimony of our faith publicly. But it does not stop there…It starts there! Sadly, the Church has forsaken discipleship, and has left its members to figure out these spiritual growth things on their own. In doing so, it causes many to give up on Christianity, while others become confused, calloused, or complacent, or they are swept away by false doctrines by wolves in sheep’s clothing because they do not know the difference!

The Church Is Called To Make Disciples
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all people, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 NLT) This is perhaps the chief characteristic that most churches somehow forget. It is also the reason the church exists. So, why is it that so few churches actually have discipleship training as a primary ministry? For most churches, it is something they think they are already doing when in fact they are not. Going to a church on Sunday and providing a couple of token adult Sunday school classes are not discipleship. Some churches may throw it in as an afterthought in something related to the subject. But that is not discipleship.

Due to our human, fallen thinking, we desire the right to ourselves more than we desire the life that God has for us. That is the reason that it is so difficult for the non-believer to except a Savior when they think they have to give up their rights and desires. It is similarly difficult for the Christian to live a life that is truly surrendered and poured out to the sovereignty of God. Yet, true discipleship cannot begin until we learn one key important aspect of life: there is only one God and you ain’t Him! We must learn to yield to the Lordship of our God and not to the desires of our will. It is only when we do this that the discipleship process can begin. However, when we refuse, we will be the strife and conflict that gives Christianity a ‘black eye’. We become the problem rather than the solution.

Therefore, discipleship as a priority gets lost. We make up excuses saying, “We are Christians already, so we are disciples already; The Spirit will guide them; Evangelism is the same thing as discipleship; We don’t have anyone to lead it; etc.” Excuses, excuses, excuses, and still no response to the Great Commission! We are not responsible for people coming to the Lord; but we are responsible for obeying our Lord and making disciples of all people!

The reason that there is no one to lead discipleship training is that there is an extreme lack of real disciples in the church; that is, people whose lives are so surrendered to Christ and out of gratitude to him, are modeling and teaching Biblical precepts to others. Even the Apostle Paul spent three years being discipled by Barnabas. It was only after his training that he received his call and was empowered directly from Jesus Himself!

Humbleness is characterized by the willingness to grow in Christ, and receive learning and experience growth. Peter tells us we ought to be humble toward one other so that we can know the grace of God and not be in opposition to God. This is so straightforward; so essential, to be a blessed church; to be a growing church– not in numbers, but in discipleship!

Discipleship and mentoring are not an option, but a command. (Matthew 28:16-20) We must follow out of our obedience and mentor in a multi-generational lifestyle, caring for the total person. This will move us from just playing church, to really BEING the Church.

The effective Church is mentoring, building relationships, and teaching each of the members by other, caring people, who are being discipled themselves, who are being taught, encouraged, and led. The death of a church happens when we follow political trends, or the patriarchal personalities that want to control people. In addition, when we have a controlling attitude, we do not allow God to control us, thus, we become empty shells and hollow logs. Being hollow means there is nothing working within us, there is no Creator of the universe leading and directing our ways, so, we become worthless to the Kingdom of God.

Making disciples takes vision and the understanding of Scripture. It gives the church a purpose to forms leaders who grow other leaders. The Christian, especially the leader, who disciples and equips others is a person who is living the faith for themselves and setting goals for their personal growth before they set goals for others. Their skills and abilities are growing them to be a better worker because first, they are striving to be a better child of God.

Jesus’ purpose for his three years of earthly ministry was the discipleship and equipping of the 12 Disciples. This was his drive and where most of his time was spent. He was focused on the teaching of the kingdom of God, but he was also teaching these men to see beyond their present situation to the life to come. His objective was that every one of the disciples would in turn teach others that every believer was an equipper, every member a minister and every person involved in the life and gifts of the Holy Spirit would influence the world.

So, what are we to do?
Jesus did not command us to seek converts, he commands us to make disciples. Discipleship is mentoring and teaching Christians using the precepts of the Bible-mainly prayer, doctrine, Christian living, and worship. Yes, we are to evangelize, but that is not our main mission and call. When we evangelize, we must realize that it is the role of the Holy Spirit to bring people into an intimate relationship with God. This is an act of divine intervention and grace. God uses us as the tools, but He is the means! We are to care, and share with others His love and character. We obey and reach, but we cannot lead people anywhere. Because God is the one who leads!

Other passages to consider on discipleship:
Isa 8:15-16; Matt. 10:24; Luke 6:40; Luke 14:26-33

Forty years ago my life was turned upside down. Up until that point my whole attitude was, “I don’t care and you don’t matter.” I hated everyone and everything. I was very good at hating and did so with all of my being. Then ‘it” happened.

Without warning, God showed Himself to me in a way that was so real and powerful, I felt as if I could physically touch Him.  After that, everything changed.

After my conversion I began writing songs to glorify God; because as a new convert, I thought that the only type of music Christians listened to was similar to the hymns I heard in church. (I had not yet been introduced to Contemporary Christian Music)

For a long time I thought that I was the only one writing such music. You can imagine how overjoyed I was to discover Christian artists such as; Larry Norman, Phil Keaggy, Randy Stonehill and The Second Chapter of Acts. But the artist that influenced me the most spiritually was Keith Green.

Keith was more than a musician. He was the voice crying out in the wilderness. And although his views on many subjects were often controversial, his spiritual intensity and radical commitment that he preached is also the kind of faith that is desperately needed today. If we will just stop to listen, we can hear his words still crying out to us today.

Below is an excerpt from one of Keith’s many articles he had written for the Last Days Ministries Magazine. I pray that Keith’s words will provoke you to seek God and follow Him unashamedly with your whole heart.

*Repentance as Necessary for Forgiveness.

It has always amazed me how the Church could have evolved to such a state as it is in now, with such clear, direct teaching from the Lord Jesus as to what is necessary to be right with God. Please read the first five verses of the 13th chapter of Luke. Here, Jesus is told the news about some Galileans who were executed by the Romans. He then says, “Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Using another example, He then repeats the same exact sentence.

I cannot conceive of conversion without repentance. The teachings of Jesus and the apostles are full of commands to “repent and be saved!” Repentance is not just “being sorry” – that is only conviction. Repentance is not merely a change of heart and a change of mind; it is a change of action! God requires that if we are sincerely convinced that sin is wrong, then we will turn from it to God, and commit ourselves to not take part in sinful deeds any longer. God blesses such decisions and commitments with abundant grace. And it is by that grace that we can fulfill the desires of the Spirit within us.

But because there is so little real conviction of sin brought about by the preaching of our modern gospel, we cannot truly require repentance anymore. If we did, no one would “come forward” at all. For repentance is easy to him who sees how ugly and horrible sin is, but repentance is impossible where the Law does not convince the sinner of his wicked heart, compelling him to turn from his sin into the arms of a waiting, compassionate God. You see, all these removed parts of the Gospel are connected. In God’s wisdom, every aspect of the appointed way of salvation is irreplaceable.

It is true that without God loving us first, we could not be saved. He made the first move, He always does. But He will not do what He requires of the sinner himself to do – and that is to repent!

God’s Sorrow and Broken Heart Over Sin.

The picture of God as presented today by evangelists is that of an optimist – a positive-thinking good ole boy who lives in heaven, high above the trouble on earth, where everything is rosy, “and the skies are not cloudy all day.” Why, how could anything bother the living God? He isn’t really troubled by all the mess down here, He has everything under control!

But again, the Bible paints a different picture of our King. Just look at Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, (Luke 19:41) or the pleadings of God with the nation of Israel through the prophets Isaiah or Ezekiel. This God, the one in the Bible, is continually striving with men through His Spirit. It says in Proverbs, “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, watching the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3) That means that God saw every rape committed today, He saw every murder, every person that starved to death, every pornographic film and book, every abused and battered child. How can anyone believe that He sees this and does not grieve? Of course God can grieve. Doesn’t the Bible implore us not to “grieve the Holy Spirit of God”? (Eph. 4:30)

You see, God is the most hurt and dishonored being in the universe. He could stop all this mess; all the perversion and crime and corruption any time He wishes, but He doesn’t! Why? Because He waits for the souls of men and women. “Regard the patience of our Lord to be salvation,” Peter said. (II Peter 3:15) But the Church, which doesn’t have one millionth of the compassion that God has, has turned around and created a god in its own image and likeness. A carefree, cheerful, above-it-all God. And then the Church has conveniently removed from the “gospel” it presents all reference to the pain and sorrow in God’s heart. The Church doesn’t want a God who’s grieved with sin, because then this God would be grieved with them… (and He is!)

*Excerpt from “What’s Wrong With the Gospel?” (Part 1) by Keith Green http://www.lastdaysministries.org/Groups/1000086196/Last_Days_Ministries/Articles/By_Keith_Green/Whats_Wrong_With/Whats_Wrong_With.aspx