THE AMERICANIZATION OF JESUS

“It is quite an education when I consider the degree of anger and hostility I get from “Christians” when I simply point out the ethics that Jesus taught, you know, ‘red letter’ stuff, like, love your enemies, do good to them who spitefully use you, etc. People will dodge, dance, resist, resent, fight, attack, slander, and any number of other lovely “Christian” behaviors for the right to cling to retributive justice and other unbiblical and ungodly beliefs, especially when Jesus’ ethics challenge their own. Once when dealing with an elder’s wife on an issue, I pointed to what Jesus said (in context, properly exegeted), in her own “red letter” Bible, that was contrary to what she was believing, clinging to, and fighting me about. Her exact words to me: ‘My Jesus is not like that.’ Precisely, that is the problem.” Dr. Stephen Crosby

The Church presents Christ as the therapist, the banker, the philosopher, the friend, the hippie, the social activist, the look-the-other-way zero-accountability spiritual figure.

Why are the majority of people in the West so confused or deceived about who Jesus really is? Why do they seem to have so little depth or spiritual substance in their lives? Why can’t these people’s Christianity go beyond, “Jesus said, ‘do not judge’?” Is it not in large part due to the distorted message of Him that our pulpits, our preachers, and our churches are presenting? Is it not for the lack of example we’ve had in many Christian leaders? Similarly, the reason for much of today’s current moral and cultural malaise stems from the Church’s distorted message of the Christ.

The image of Jesus for many professing Christians has been shaped by the society around them. Unless you have an intimate relationship with the Holy One and His Word, the image you have of Him will be distorted. It will resemble the pop culture you live in and what the people of that culture worship. In the West, self is god. Corruptible man is worshipped. Humanism rules. And this is what we see in much of today’s Church.

If a professing believer does not want to give up his carnal, sinful lifestyle and adhere to the Lord’s ways, he can just create an image of God that makes room for his sinful lifestyle. It is a very subtle deception that comforts and consoles him in his carnality and sin by saying things like, “God knows my heart,” or “God understands my struggles.” These types of comments, however, are usually made as a way of defending his lifestyle and justifying his carnal appetites. Is the Jesus you serve a product of your own desires patterned after this world, or is He the true presence of the Living Word of God in your life?

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For example, divorce is now a rampant part of our Western culture, and the divorce rate in the church is nearly equal to that in the world. Many professing Christians find an unscriptural excuse to leave their spouses, and, in contradiction to the will of God, they forsake the vows they once made. And now that our culture is deteriorating to levels of sexual anarchy, professing Christians are claiming that one can also be gay and be a Christian. This is what happens when professing Christians flow with the spirit of the world. The image of God in them changes.

Emil Durkheim, the classic father of sociology, wrote extensively about totemism. Totemism is derived from the word “totem,” which is a natural object or an animate being, such as an animal or bird, assumed to be the emblem of a clan, family, or group. It can be an object or a natural phenomenon that a family considers itself to be closely related to; a totem serves as a distinctive mark of that group or family. Totemism is the belief in the kinship of groups or individuals having a common totem and the rituals, taboos, and practices associated with such a belief.

Durkheim described totemism as the human tendency to form a conception of God in our own image. He said that oftentimes human beings, whether they are jungle tribes or sophisticated city dwellers, will take the values and traditions that they admire most about themselves and project them onto a totem. Eventually, they stand in awe of that totem and end up worshipping an incarnation of the things they love about themselves. This is what people do with the image of God. We create an image of a god whom we can relate to and who cares about the same things we care about.

During the days of Moses, Israel was living in an environment that worshipped images of animals and creeping things, and so a golden calf was fashioned from the people’s gold and worshipped (Ex. 32). “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things” (Rom. 1:22-23). Their culture influenced and shaped their image of God. If you don’t stay in God’s presence and in God’s Word, being a doer of it, the same thing could happen to you.

Beware of idolatry and changing the image of an incorruptible God into corruptible man.

In the West, worshipping golden images of animals and insects is not as prominent. As I stated, we worship something more subtle: self.

The fewer preconceptions we bring from the outside to the reading of the gospels, the more clearly we shall see Him as He really is. It is all too easy to believe in a Jesus who is largely a construction of our own imagination — an inoffensive Person whom no one could dislike or disapprove of, and certainly whom no one would ever crucify.

But the Jesus we meet in the gospels is far from being an inoffensive person. On the contrary, He caused offense quite frequently. Even His loyal followers found Him to be offensive at times, even disconcerting. He upset all established notions of religious propriety.

An inaccurate, distorted, and unbiblical view of Jesus is a big reason why many pastors fail to confront sin in the Church and speak of the evils in our society.

When asked why pastors don’t speak out against the evils in our nation and government, one influential pastor said, “I think one reason is a lot of Christian leaders have the wrong idea about Jesus. They see Jesus as this little, wimpy guy who walked around plucking daisies and eating birdseed and saying nice things, but never doing anything controversial.

“The fact is, Jesus did confront his culture with truth — and he ended up being crucified because of it. I believe it’s time for pastors to say, ‘You know, I don’t care about controversy, I don’t care whether I’m going to lose church members, I don’t care about building a big church. I’m going to stand for truth, regardless of what happens.’”

At times, the greatest love we can demonstrate is in rebuke. Conversely, at times, the greatest cruelty we can demonstrate is in never confronting sin or evil.

“Nothing can be more cruel than the tenderness that consigns another to their sin. Nothing can be more compassionate than the severe rebuke that calls a brother back from the path of sin.”Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Jesus said what He meant and meant what He said. If you read His words assuming otherwise, then you are not encountering the real Jesus.

This is an excerpt from the fourth book of a compelling tetralogy called The Real Jesus. The other three books are The Real Salvation, The Real Spirit of Revival, and The Real Gospel. These books expose the falsehood that has creeped into the Church today and defiled it. They will help purify your walk with the Lord and increase your love for the truth.

 

THE IDOL OF PROFESSIONAL MINISTRY MUST BOW

This is a journal entry from April 2002 when my life and ministry was transformed during an extended time of prayer and fasting. It is a word from God that is fitting for many in this hour when the “idol” of professional ministry shall bow to Jesus and His life (The Journal Of A Journey To His Holiness). 

Think back to your former days when in your innocence and simplicity you possessed a certain awareness of the reality of My presence. Surprisingly, as your knowledge of My Word increased, you forfeited a portion of that awareness. “Ministry” spoiled the innocence and simplicity of our fellowship. Your mind became somewhat corrupted by “ministry.” Religion entered back into your life in a different form and worked a measure of death birthed by the works of man.

If you will be honest with yourself and remember those former days, you will have to admit that you had an awareness of My presence not only in your solitude with Me, but on the job as well. You had a sensitivity to the sinner and were always aware of Me when in their presence. But then after being trained for ministry, and being always around believers, performance and activity became the king of all your service. A measure of My love was diminished and a measure of My awareness was lost. Religion again worked its course in you to separate you from Myself.

Put away all residue of religion and move on into the glorious life and liberty of the Son. Move on into the communion of the Holy Spirit in all phases of your life.

Image result for images of light on pathway

Walk in the light of God and experience the life and liberty of the Son. 

I would have you know that My Son was the most un-religious person that ever walked the face of the earth. He was the last Adam. What the first Adam possessed before the fall, the last Adam possessed without ever falling. In the first Adam, before the fall, there was no religion. There were no temples made with human hands. There were no religious groups and denominations. There was not to be in the original purpose of the Godhead a division among men concerning religious persuasion or doctrine. These things are now all a product of sin and of the curse that came upon the earth.

There was no division between the spiritual and the natural. My kingdom was a part of all of Adam’s life. There was no division between his ministry to Me and his personal life. It was all one.

As I have already spoken to you, one of the greatest idols in these last days that will bow its knee to My presence is the idol of “ministry”. “Ministry” has a subtle way of spoiling the simplicity of a walk with Me. The idol of ministry is birthed by the spirit of religion. It is man using My Word to do their own will in ministry. That is the reason for so much of the division that exists in My body today.

In My Holy Spirit of Truth there is no division. If all men would learn to humble themselves and bow their wills to My life and My mind, the Spirit of Truth would teach them. My true life and liberty has been sacrificed on the altar of the stubborn will of man. The Spirit of Truth has been quenched by the muddy waters of religion that works through the will of man.

I would have you know, son, that it was the filthy hands of religion that crucified the innocent clean hands of My life on that cross. It is still the filthy hands of religion today that crucify My life on the altar of the human will of man. It was the filthy hands of the religious spirit that opposed and then crucified the glorious life and liberty of the Son. Lucifer so opposes this life and liberty that is found in My Son because it defies religion and the selfish will of man.

Study Isaiah chapter 14. See how Lucifer fell. Hear what he said. Was it not his will that opposed Me and My reign? Lucifer’s will desired exaltation. A desire for an honored reputation led to his fall. He has great hatred for all mankind, but especially toward those who only desire to do the will of the Father, and not their own.

That is why the Son uttered phrases like, “I came not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” “…My judgment is just because I seek not My own will, but the will of the Father which has sent Me.” “And My delight is to do Your will, oh God.” Statements like this were like a slap to Lucifer’s face.

In the depths of that delight to do the Father’s will lies the secret of deliverance from the spirit of religion. It is all found in the will. The key is to surrender your will on the altar of His life.

In the hearing and obeying of My counsel lies the secret to possessing that life. That life is a life of liberty that is free of religion. Religion is based on activity and performance outside of hearing and obeying. Liberty comes when you hear and obey what I say. Doing your own will engenders bondage.

The only kind of religion that is pure is the kind written in James 1:27 which is to take care of widows and orphans and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

This is a living word which produces a living faith.

A book for our time, commanding the remnant to arise. Get your copy now!  The Tumultuous 2020s

INTIMACY WITH GOD: KEEPING YOURSELF FROM IDOLS

There are many things that will rob, steal and plunder our love and affection for the Lord Jesus. It is not just obvious sins and acts of carnality and disobedience which spoil us of the nearness of His presence, but it is also the good and acceptable things, which while having their proper place in the Christian life, have a tendency to make one devoid of the real mind of Christ. Such things as meetings, communions, baptisms, buildings, programs, doctrines, finances or other things that concern the church and ministry system, apart from the mind of Christ, will dry up the real heart of the Christian life. Often it’s these very things that rob us of the hallowing intimacy which we are to experience with God’s throne of grace and seat of mercy.

Here is the question we must ask ourselves in evaluating our love and devotion to God: What are we doing on the inside? Where, or toward what, are we directing our will and desire? That is what marks our life in relation to God. This Scripture gives us a sober warning:

“Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.” (John 5:21, TLB)

We are admonished in Scripture to guard our hearts (Prov. 4:23), to seek God with our whole heart (Ps. 119:2), to sanctify the Lord in our hearts (1 Pet. 3:15), to return to our first love (Rev. 2:4-5), and to beware of being cheated in our relationship to Christ (Col. 2:8). There are a lot of things we can do in this life to gain success, wealth, prestige, a name and reputation, a church and a ministry, but there’s nothing more fulfilling to the human heart than having an intimate, personal and growing relationship with the Lord Jesus.

INTIMACY, THE CURE FOR THE IMITATION OF MEN

“Therefore, knowing that they would come and take Him by force to make Him king, Jesus departed to a mountain by Himself alone” (John 6:15, MEV).

The world had no influence whatsoever on our high priest. He didn’t need men to give Him authority. Publicity and popularity were never His goal.

More than once, Jesus warned others not to make Him known (Matt. 12:16). The moonlight, not the spotlight, was the highlight in Jesus’ ministry. He spent many nights and early mornings alone in prayer.

The mountain was His preference. It was there that He secured the Father’s presence. It was there that He made His choices while blocking out other voices. It was there where He was given new manna for each new day.

This is where Jesus received His authority.

Priests (ministers and saints), hearken! If you do not spend time with God alone, you will always be a clone. You will clone ministry ideas, visions and strategies from others. You will copy and imitate the gifts and graces of others. Your authority will only come from man. You will drink from someone else’s well (anointing). You will steal someone else’s word. You will be a spiritual schizophrenic.

Fresh manna every day will result in doing things God’s way. Fresh bread bakes in the oven of fresh fellowship. You will always have hot bread (messages) for yourself and to serve the people.

Many of God’s priests have not worn their garments well. They have neglected the lot and portion of their lives and ministries, who is the Lord Himself. Instead of the Spirit’s incubation giving them fresh revelation, they allow insecurity and intimidation to produce a soulish imitation void of God’s power. In making their own plans and choosing their own course, they invite a spirit of divorce to come between themselves and the Lord.

A glad reunion awaits them, if they would only turn to the Lord with all their hearts. Intimacy with God is the cure for the imitation of men.

Be a support to us and follow our blog and help spread these messages. Also, consider subscribing to our ministry YouTube channel for weekly 15 minute Face to Face video impartations on the Spirit-filled life from my wife and I.  

Our books are forerunners to personal holiness, the move of God, and the return of the Lord. They also combat the departure from the faith and the turning away from the truth we are seeing in our day. 

Also, this ministry is sustained by the freewill offerings of those who believe in the mandate and message of revival and restoration that this ministry carries. Again, if this article has been a blessing to you, would you prayerfully consider making a tax-deductible contribution through our Paypal button to help? 

DONATE 

Thank you, and may God’s richest and best be yours.

THE TUMULTUOUS 2020s: THE COUNTER CULTURE CHURCH CANNOT CO-EXIST (Part 4)

In spite of church growth-ism in America … in spite of the greatest number of megachurches in our history … in spite of many seemingly successful Christian enterprises…in spite of pastors boasting of their supposed impact … we are experiencing the most rapid moral decline in America’s history.

Atheism and heathenism have accelerated. Our public school system and universities are mass producing socialists, communists and those with an aggressive anti-Christ agenda. And get this: Nearly half of all Millennial Christians now believe evangelism is wrong. Hard to believe that one, but those Barna surveys are fairly accurate.

Driven by a lust for popularity, position and power, many church pastors and leaders have wantonly turned a deaf ear to this national disaster that has dismantled faith and morality in America. It is a terrible thing to think that much of what we call “Christianity” in our land has become a system void of the reality and power that marked its earliest beginnings. In a majority of our churches, tradition, formality, entertainment and social justice have actually made their version of “Christianity” perhaps the greatest enemy of the cause of Christ—a bastion of order, technique, form, and philosophy that has ironically served to immunize us against the real Christ and the real gospel. Probably the worst of it is that we’ve become a consumer-driven and image-based enterprise that has left off the real demands of Christ and the call to genuine discipleship that makes us all fishers of men.

Listen to the words of Eugene Peterson:

“A huge religious marketplace has been set up in North America to meet the needs and fantasies of people just like us. There are conferences and gatherings custom-designed to give us what we need. Books and videos and seminars promise to let us in on the Christian “secret” of whatever we feel is lacking in our life: Financial security, well-behaved children, weight loss, exotic sex, travel to holy sites, exciting worship and celebrity teachers. The people who promote these goods and services all smile a lot and are good looking.

“We have become consumers of packaged spiritualities. This is idolatry. We never think of using this term for it, since everything we are buying or paying for is defined by the adjective “Christian.” But idolatry it is nevertheless: God packaged as a product; God depersonalized and made available as a technique or program. The Christian market in idols has never been more brisk or lucrative.”

HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS

As men and women, young and old, are becoming more and more dissatisfied with the systems of this world and of the American gospel enterprise version of Christianity, we are now seeing a remnant of true God seekers who actually pray and fast, and are passionate lovers of Jesus who will not compromise the gospel and resort to slick marketing to draw the attention of society. They are preaching the offense of the cross of Christ, not with enticing words of man’s speech but in demonstration of the Spirit and power of God. They are trusting the Holy Spirit to direct and build the church. We are now seeing a growing number of these messengers and God-men on the scene, and more are coming. It is a countercultural Christianity that will be contagious and spread like wildfire among those who long for real meaning and purpose in life. These are the Jesus people, the Jesus lovers.

This will result in a collision with consumerism Christianity that’s based on compromise and flows with the culture. There will be a mass exodus from so called “progressive” and “seeker-friendly” churches, and a great harvest of prodigals and false converts will be restored and genuinely converted. It will upset the religious crowd and much of our humanistic American culture. The two shall no longer coexist. There will be uprisings. There could even be riots. There will be increased persecution of the righteous. But there will also be revivals and explosions of zeal witnessed in fiery new converts.

Everything that can be shaken will be shaken. It’s not too late. In fact, it’s just beginning.

Be a support to us and follow our blog and help spread these messages. Also, consider subscribing to our ministry YouTube channel for weekly 15 minute Face to Face video impartations on the Spirit-filled life from my wife and I.  

Our books are forerunners to personal holiness, the move of God, and the return of the Lord. They also combat the departure from the faith and the turning away from the truth we are seeing in our day. 

Also, this ministry is sustained by the freewill offerings of those who believe in the mandate and message of revival and restoration that this ministry carries. Again, if this article has been a blessing to you, would you prayerfully consider making a tax-deductible contribution through our Paypal button to help? 

DONATE 

Thank you, and may God’s richest and best be yours.

A COMPELLING HOLIDAY SERIES: WILL THE REAL CHRISTMAS JESUS PLEASE STAND UP?

When we see Jesus as He is, 
glorious and worthy of our deepest loyalties and affections,
 deserving of our total focus and supreme attention;
 we will catch fire inwardly and burn with holy fear, and a holy hunger for the Word will grip our hearts,
 and we will proclaim Him as He is. ~Anonymous~

We celebrate Christ’s birth on Christmas, but for most He is not the center of the rejoicing and celebration that marks this time of year. I think many of us would agree that Christmas has become so commercialized that Christ is hardly noticed, much less celebrated and revered.

Easter would be in the same category. How in the world a celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ could’ve ever evolved into an affinity with Easter bunnies and Easter eggs I’ll never know. Such is the tenuous nature of idolatry.

Is it possible for Jesus Christ to be lost at Christmas time and in Christianity in general, the very religion whose name it bears and professes? We know that without a relationship with Christ, just another religion is all that remains. We also know from scripture that someone can profess to know Christ but in works actually deny Him (Titus 1:16). But isn’t it also true that in works many may profess to know Him, but in authentic heart knowledge they do not?

Who knew Jehovah in Old Testament times? That earthly system of Judaism was to point the way to Christ, but in actuality it hid Him from the multitudes who were enmeshed in the works of the law. The external had glossed over the need for the internal. Sin and death reigned in the old order of the Law and all its rituals and ceremonial rules and customs.

Isn’t the same true today? There is an external order in modern Christianity that seems to rule and it is quite evident during the Christmas holidays. Its emphasis on appearance, hype, professionalism, showmanship, production, and commercialism that is prominent, especially during this time of year,  tends to hide the real Jesus from us. It easily allows us to deceive ourselves into thinking that somehow God is pleased with all this while Christ is glossed over.

Even many of our contemporary churches with their Madison Avenue tactics have become echo chambers for the latest trends in pop psychology, marketing, politics, entertainment, and entrepreneurial leadership while the piercing revelation of Christ and His simple demands are often overlooked or packaged in a way to make Him palatable to the masses.

We have become all too enamored with our own glory in the kingdoms that we are building, at times totally unaware of receiving that invisible kingdom “that cannot be shaken” (Heb. 12:2).

Judaism with all its forms, rituals, and framework began its removal 2,000 years ago and was replaced with a spiritual, heavenly standard established in the New Covenant. And now in this end time marks once again the removal of all that is external to bring us to a forcing point, and it is this: 

After all is said and done, how much of the Christ do you really have? Not what you do, not what you’ve built, not what you have, not all the shopping and gift giving and receiving done at Christmas time, not even the noble activities which constitute your Christian life, but how much of the Christ Himself have you got?

This Christmas series contains modified excerpts from my book, The Real Jesus. It is a book that I’d love to put into the hands of many during this holiday season. It would make a great gift.

If this article has been a blessing to you please share it. And may God make you a blessing during this Christmas season as you exalt the Lord Jesus Christ.