April 28, 2007

Spiritual Unrest in the Church

Is it just me, or is it noticeable to others that the condition of the church today is confusion and strife? It’s a time where few are sure about anything and Christians are floundering with no leadership and no direction. If you go into any of the large Christian blogs and chat-rooms on the Internet you’ll read a babel of unsure and fearful voices -- a spirit of fear has infested the church. As in the days of the earthly years of Jesus, so it is today on the eve of His return:

"But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd" (Matt. 9:36).

As the number of people attending churches dwindles (as is the case, according to George Barna) pastors are resorting to the world’s methods to attract more numbers just to be able to keep their lights on. Churches in Houston are particularly desperate for members considering most of that city’s church-goers attend Joel Osteen’s arena where they can get a motivational pep-talk every Sunday to see them through the week.

Most Protestant denominations have gone totally liberal and do not attract any Christian who holds the Bible in high regard. The Roman Catholic Church is decimated due to the ongoing pedophile priest scandal and the loss of the much-loved Pope John Paul II. (Ratzinger/Benedict just can’t fill those padded shoes.) And recurrent sex scandals in the Evangelical church world and corruption in leadership has resulted in Christians floundering in home churches in order to find a few like-minded believers with whom they can have true fellowship. Sadly, the body of Christ has taken an "every man for himself" philosophy. (See Exodus article & looking for a few good churches.)

Yet Christians everywhere are desperate to find their place in the body of Christ where they can be a participating member, utilizing the gifts that the Holy Spirit has bestowed on them for the greater good. For women, that is particularly difficult when most Bible churches delegate the women to the toddler ministry or to help create table centerpieces for the women’s retreats where they hear canned messages on how to serve their families (not that they shouldn’t serve their families, mind you, but there is more to a woman’s growth in the things of the Lord than that).

My old friend Lee Grady, editor of Charisma Magazine, just wrote an editorial in his "Fire in My Bones" column, recognizing this spiritual apathy in his own circles.  He is connected with the so-called "prophets/apostles movement where those who see themselves in those high offices in the church have a new revelation daily revealing a god that changes like a chameleon saying he’s going to do one thing one day and something else entirely different the next and yet doing absolutely nothing at all. Grady told of a meeting he attended where they came up with their vision of the next revival. He wrote in part:

"The consultation on revival that I attended yesterday united a diverse group … and shed a few tears as we admitted how badly the American church needs another Great Awakening. Billy Wilson, a Pentecostal who directs the International Center for Spiritual Renewal…asked us to envision what a 21st century revival would look…

  • The next revival will surprise us…Just as the apostle Peter was shocked when the Holy Spirit fell on the gentiles in Cornelius’ house, we too will be surprised (and some of us will be offended) by the way God works.

  • It will be controversial… When He moves in power, not everyone in the church will welcome God’s holy disruption. Some denominations and religious systems will criticize it—and persecute those who promote it…

  • It will be gloriously messy…

  • It will be accompanied by astounding miracles

  • Old church programs, patterns and facilities will become obsolete. When the new wine appears, we will quickly recognize how ineffective our old wineskins were…

  • Technology will play a big role. Imagine the raw spiritual energy of a Great Awakening traveling digitally into every home…"

It’s honorable to come together as a church and pray for revival – we sure need it. But the vision they concluded with demonstrates the very attitudes that have helped create the current dead and dry condition of the church today. The focus on signs and wonders, the rejection of the Bible as a means to test it, and the quest for "spiritual energy" or power gave us the Toronto Blessing (Curse) in the last decade. And when they could not keep up the momentum and the circus atmosphere ended, people were left with nothing but a thirst for the next visitation of familiar spirits. The Bible to them became same-o, same-o. It’s as if we haven’t learned anything from that horrible chapter in the history of the church. The desire for what they call "new wine" only proves they hate the "new wine" that God gave to His people in the first century, which they now consider to be "old wine."

This vision tears down the church further instead of strengthening what remains. Jesus said that it’s an evil and wicked generation that seeks after a sign and no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah, which is His resurrection from the dead. But that isn’t good enough for sign seekers or for men like Simon the Magician in the book of Acts who was willing to pay money for the gifts he saw in the apostles.

We could all learn a valuable lesson from Christ’s words to the churches in the book of Revelation, particularly to the one of whom the Lord promised He would save from the time of testing that is coming upon the whole earth. Instead of seeking after excitement and religious thrills in this time of spiritual famine, we should be putting the Word of God in the center of our devotion.

"I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name." (Rev. 3:8).

We deny His name when we seek spiritual truth in other religions or in ways inconsistent with the Word of Truth that He gave us for a light to our path. Finding so-called spiritual exercises that derive from Eastern religions is a growing trend in the floundering church today. That is because many are losing their love for the Word of God. When that happens men and women seek signs and wonders and experiences that their carnal minds crave. How sad that that is what many charismatics are hungering for today. And since the world is being conditioned to be deceived by the antichrist through lying signs and wonders, this misdirected hunger is all the more alarming.


"For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe" 1Th 2:13.

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