Love In Christ
There is much that can be gleaned from this text but space dictates that I point out that the Christian is to bear fruit, but this is not just empty statistics. On the contrary Jesus is telling us that if we witness for God His way then our fruit would remain. The Master, Who obviously spoke the Truth in love perfectly, also informs us in verse 18 that the world hated Me before it has hated you. So the Christian already knows going in that the true Gospel of Jesus Christ will never be popular with Satan’s world system. And what leaders within the ECoD such as Rick Warren and Brian McLaren and Joel Osteen don’t seem to understand is that the above command by God in verse 17 that we love one another cannot be separated from something else Jesus would later pray in His High Priestly Prayer:
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in Us so that the world may believe that You have sent Me. I have given them the glory that You gave Me, that they may be one as We are one: I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me. "(John 17:20-23)
Since I cover this more issue more thoroughly in True Unity In The Body Of Christ I will make just this one point in passing. To love one another in the way the Master is speaking above in verse 21 necessitates that first one must be born again by the Holy Spirit through God’s grace alone; through faith alone; in Christ alone. This is the only way someone can be in Christ just as the Father is in Him and Christ is in the Father. What the ECoD, centered as it is on the love of man instead of on love for God, does is to try and isolate a verse such as 17 of our opening text in order to further their own misguided agenda of pleasing the world. Let me also point out to the reader that the Purpose Driven Church of Rick Warren is the major cog in this Reformation-denying ECoD.
Examining Christ’s Commands
Currently I have been seeking the Lord concerning these matters because as a Christian and a pastor-teacher myself I most certainly would never wish to violate such a central command as love one another. Seeking no sympathy, but stating a fact, the type of ministry that Apprising Ministries has involved me in is quite difficult for someone with my particular personality. In this kind of discernment work it’s hard enough to keep the balance between love for God and love for others as we stand for His Truth. This however is then complicated in my case because by nature I am also a person who hates conflict. My basic philosophy was always “live and let live.”
have in common with the average person
in this world today, so conditioned as
we are to think that love means we are
not to infringe on the “rights” of
someone else and instead must leave them
alone to live as they please. Satan
knows this sounds good to the flesh, and
especially to those who have followed
his deceiving spirits with their things
taught by demons into the reasoning
process reversing practice of
contemplative spirituality. The
immediate problem that arises is these
people must then attack the absolute and
final authority of God’s Word because
this doesn’t square with the Bible–Old
or New Testament–because the Lord’s
prophets and preachers in Holy Scripture
continually call mankind to live up to
the standards required by their Creator.
Consider that the Bible unquestionably tells us God is love (e.g. 1 John 4:8). And because it also tells us that – All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, then it logically follows that teaching, rebuking, correcting and training must also be a part of Christ’s command to love one another. Now we examine the issue further by following another command the Master gave to His Church – “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment” (Mark 12:30, KJV). I’ve also covered this elsewhere, but notice that Jesus also lets us know love’s proper priority as He says – “this is the first commandment; as in the most important. Therefore to love as Jesus loved begins with a love for God above anything or anyone else.
A Profitable Morning Devotion
This brings us back to my meditation on love in the Bible during my morning devotion as I have been seeking the Lord’s will concerning this matter. He is my witness that I would pull every piece I have ever written and repent publicly if AM has been out of line in what I have been teaching while I watch this apostasy spread through the Church as quickly as an Oklahoma wild fire (thanks Mike Ratliff). So today as I read Tozer on Christian Leadership I believe the Lord helped me to come to see something so very important concerning this whole issue of the human potential movement that has actually formed the base for the ECoD. For you see all this dutiful daughter has done is to simply follow the man-pleasing footsteps her self-righteous mother the long apostate Church of Rome in a tragic violation of this Scripture:
"See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the traditions of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." (Colossians 2:8, NASB)
With this understood we need to think back and remember that as A.W. Tozer is writing evangelicalism, which has ultimately proven to be humanism coated with Christian theology, was still young. The positive centered on self message of Norman Vincent Peale was heavily influencing a relative unknown “minister” by the name of Robert Schuller as well as his friend Billy Graham, who at this time was still rising to his status as religious icon. It all seemed so simple then, so innocent, but the sharp spiritual eyes of the Lord’s watchmen saw through it. Tozer would write:
"We in the churches seem unable to rise above the fiscal philosophy which rules the business world; so we introduce into our church finances the psychology of the great secular institutions so familiar to us all and judge a church by its financial report much as we judge a bank or a department store.
"A look into history will quickly convince any interested person that the true church has almost always suffered more from prosperity than from poverty. Her times of greatest spiritual power have usually coincided with her periods of indigence and rejection; with wealth came weakness and backsliding. If this cannot be explained, neither apparently can it be escaped.
"The point I am trying to make here is that while money has a proper place in the total life of the church militant, the tendency is to attach to it an importance that is far greater than is biblically sound or morally right. The average church has so established itself organizationally and financially that God is simply not necessary to it. So entrenched is its authority and so stable are the religious habits of its members that God could withdraw Himself completely from it and it could run on for years on its own momentum." (Tozer on Christian Leadership, July 12)
The Spirit Has Withdrawn
Can you see it now? This was to become the evangelicalism of good old positive American business savvy and know-how “that God could withdraw Himself completely from it and it could run on for years on its own momentum.” All the time there we were looking ahead for the “falling away” and it had likely already begun. So no wonder this apostasy seems to be spreading so far and so fast. Could it actually be that it has already been happening and the Purpose Driven juggernaut with its “fiscal philosophy which rules the business world” is just the logical outgrowth of this human potential movement so many Christian leaders have chosen instead of the Christ they say they serve? Maybe all that is really happening is that God is opening our eyes to what had already begun.
No wonder the purpose is driving God away so fast, the Holy Spirit has likely been grieving for years and with the most grievous mistake made by so many Christians in so easily accepting Rick Warren as their new high priest may have been enough for God to abandon evangelicalism to itself. O sure Warren is going to North Korea, allegedly to speak to “millions.” The question is: Speak to them about what? Men and women, if this man cannot even preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ within the freedoms afforded in this country, do you seriously think Rick Warren is going to do so in that nation held captive by atheistic communism and their “god” Kim Jong II? From the mouth of one of evangelicalism’s best loved prophets, Billy Graham, whose mantle Warren has received, I read him say:
"Much of the world is callous and indifferent toward mankind’s poverty and distress. This is due largely to the fact that for many people there has never been a rebirth. The love of God has never been shed abroad in their hearts." (Unto The Hills, July 11, 242)
Yes Billy Graham, we agree, so how could you have been so “callous and indifferent” choosing to “bless” your late friend John Paul II’s idolatry and his gross waste on money on lavish papal “privileges” when he denied the Biblical Gospel of salvation that you youself preach? Sadly, in this same devotional above a misapplied love of man emerges from Graham when he wrongly concludes that:
"[Jesus] mourned over Jerusalem because as a great city it had lost its appreciation of the things of the spirit (sic). His great heart was sensitive to the needs of others (ibid)."
The fact that Graham ends this teaching with a lengthy quote from “St.” Francis of Assisi whom he tells us “had discovered the secret of happiness” and encourages us to then pray Assisi’s man-centered prayer is quite telling in itself. It grieves me to have to say these things about someone I grew up respecting, but can’t you just see the influences of Peale and Schuller upon Graham? And if you do you will also have discovered another of the roots from which the Warrens and the Osteens now spring forth as man-pleasing weeds in God’s wheat field. Jesus didn’t mourn over His precious Jerusalem because of something so simple as it “lost its appreciation of the things of the spirit”; no, our loving Lord wept because these people had rejected their own Creator in favor of their interest in self and their own purposes and had thus condemned themselves to Hell.
Lost In the Throes Of Apostasy
I am sad to say that Graham’s papal friend made the same tragic mistake. And don’t you think that if Graham had better understood how to love his friend Karol Wojtyla that he should have told him the truth. In fact, Graham could have used the very illustration for this pope while he still had time to repent. The reason Christ wept over Jerusalem, a city loved by God, is really quite clear – As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:41-42). Can you see; the sin of this people, and their refusal to repent, had caused God’s judgment to fall upon them and now His purpose was hidden from them. They could no longer “see” and they could no longer “hear,” they were lost forever in the throes of apostasy.
But this is exactly what happens when mankind follows our corrupt human nature and turns ourselves inward, we begin to think and act virtually the opposite from the way God himself does. Today the average Christian thinks our purpose is to usher in the Kingdom of God by unconditionally loving each other and putting our “differences” aside to work together for the social needs of our fellow man. As stated earlier this is actually step two because Christ’s greatest command–the LORD God Almighty’s first command–is to love Him above even our own lives and to do exactly what He tells us to do whether it makes sense to anyone else or not. We are to obey our Master whether it pleases anyone else or not, and we must follow the Lord whether we even understand why God has given us a particular test or not (e.g. Abraham with Isaac). You can trust me; I know exactly what I am talking about.
These words by Charles Haddon Spurgeon reveal the Mind of the Spirit to the true Christian:
"Be you determined that if others do as they please, you are not accountable for their action; but you will do what you believe to be right. If you are a Christian, go through with it; be a follower of Christ in every respect as far as the Word of God and your own conscience lead you…
"Now, I earnestly pray every Christian person here, especially in the beginning of life, to look well to this matter, for the joy of your life, the peace of your life, the inward rest of your life, will much depend under God upon your being faithful to your convictions at every point as God shall help you.
"The great King Himself seems to say tonight, “Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with Me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve Me” (Psalm 101:6, KJV). He is the man whom I will pick out for My servant." (At the Master’s Feet, July 11)
the sad, but absolute Truth comes
emerging to the followers of Jesus as we
finally admit it: We are currently
living among a people lost in the throes
of apostasy because the purpose too many
professing Christians have looked to for
their breakthrough to Kingdom living is
driving God away. Will He return? We
must be honest, on this present course
of cross-less Christianity, no. Look
back through history yourself. Has there
ever been a time where the Lord blessed
mankind when we decided to build our
“Tower of Babel,” whatever it might have
been at a given time, and decided that
we could approach our Creator on own
terms? If there isn’t a full scale
repentance from this love of self soon
within the American Christian Church
then rest assured that as you listen to
the rain fall one rainy day you will
actually be hearing the very tears of