In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes that when he had come to them, he did not come proclaiming the gospel in words of eloquence or human wisdom and philosophy, but he had resolved to know nothing among them except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
There is much preaching available today. There are brick & mortar buildings with preachers, there are books written by preachers, there are email devotionals and podcasts and YouTube subscriptions and Facebook posts and tweets by those who have so-called spiritual influence. What are they influencing? What is the by-product of all of the preaching and listening?
There are words written and spoken which are nothing but human wisdom propped up by Scripture which has been interpreted by human reasoning and emotion. There are so-called influential people who are calling their followers or attendees to do this or that because of what another person didn’t do or say. It is a Christianity that looks just like the world. It is the blind leading the blind. One writer I followed for years began to lean into the anti-gay movement so deeply that it was being touted as the Church’s persecution when a preacher could not preach anti-gay sermons. Another and more recent article I read was on how an American pastor told his congregation how to vote due to a celebrity’s lack of sympathy for a certain historical fact which had nothing to do with Christ. All of this merely draws in those with similar opinions and fuels the flesh. There is no stumbling block of offense, there is no absurdity; just a clanging of religious cymbals with zero ability to offer Life.
It became an inquiry of my own heart as to what it would look like if what was being preached was nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified? Christ crucified brings into view Christ risen with all that means. It became an inquiry of my own heart as to whether the one writing on this so-called persecution of those who would no longer be able to preach anti-gay sermons is merely a passing away of all that is not Christ so that He may come into view. The Lord put on my heart a couple of years ago not to lament the lie but to glorify the truth; much of what I once was able to write eloquently was shut up, but the Scriptures opened, and my writing would never be the same. There is much that will be shaken and pass away that we do not need to fear, beloved. What comes to mind are Jesus’ words in Matthew 7: 24-27
So everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts upon them [obeying them] will be like a sensible (prudent, practical, wise) man who built his house upon the rock.
And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them will be like a stupid (foolish) man who built his house upon the sand.
And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great and complete was the fall of it.
Let us be encouraged that the wise man who built his house upon the rock, or in other words, the one who hears the words of Christ and acts upon them, obeying them, the rains still fell, the floods still came, the winds still blew and beat against that house… YET IT DID NOT FALL because it was FOUNDED ON THE ROCK. This brings to mind Jesus’ words to Peter after God, not flesh and blood, revealed to him who Jesus was. It was on that Christ would build His church and the gates of hell could not prevail against it. The gates of hell are able to prevail against many things, but Christ risen is not one of them. Hallelujah!
Let us also be encouraged by Paul’s words in Colossians 3: 1-4
If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.
For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ, Who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in [the splendor of His] glory.
Friends, this world is not our home. Our King has a kingdom that is not of this world. We are sojourners and pilgrims, looking forward to the city which has fixed and firm foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God. Let us therefore, receiving this kingdom that is firm and stable and CANNOT BE SHAKEN, offer to God pleasing service and acceptable worship. Lord, we believe. Help our unbelief.
Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. In John 8 Jesus is recorded as saying that to know the Truth is to be set free, and clarifies that statement later with: Whomever the Son sets free is free indeed (v. 36). In another place Jesus tells His disciples that He still has many things to tell them, but that they are not able to bear them (John 16:12.) Beloved, we are that same way today. There are many things that He wants to tell us, but we are unable to bear them. It requires the Spirit, Whom Jesus points to in John 16:13, to guide us into all truth. The Holy Spirit is not honoring and glorifying trending topics, political agenda’s, though they may be ‘good’, human opinions, or anti- _________ (fill-in-the-blank). The Holy Spirit honors and glorifies Christ (v. 14). May He find us willing to adjust to Him!
T. Austin-Sparks writes that: It is the birthright of every child of God to know the voice of the Lord in his or her own spirit. Since that is true, we must know the Lord in order to know His voice. Whatever it is we are listening to, reading, or focused on, is it a voice pointing us towards Christ, so that we may know Him ourselves. Are we receiving that which is validating our human reasoning and opinions, or is it like the Chip Brogden quote on the image above, a revelation that is eliminating our illusions and creating in our lives less of us and more of Christ?
It is Christ Who sets free (John 8:36).
It is Christ Who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption. (1 Corinthians 1:30).
It is Christ in Whom all natural and fleshly distinctions fall away (Gal. 3:28)
It is Christ in Whom we are to delight ourselves, rejoicing that we are in Him (Phil. 3:1).
In a situation of growing spiritual death, and darkness, and decline, and loss, John writes all this and says in effect, “Oh, you believers, you need to recover in this day your knowledge, your experience of this Life that is in Christ! This matchless Life! This mighty Life! It is the Life that is going to solve the problems, answer the questions, meet the needs, overcome the adverse forces, and triumph at last. It’s this Life in Christ! That’s what you need to know, and apart from that, apart from that, things will go from bad to worse, and from worse to awful – they’ll just decline.”
And John stands right in that gap, in that gap and says, “The answer is a recovery of Jesus Christ as the eternal Life in the power of this endless Life, a recovery in your spiritual history, in your spiritual experience”. T. Austin-Sparks
Father, I pray that You may grant to us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Your Son. By having the eyes of our hearts flooded with light, so that we can know and understand the hope to which You have called us and how rich is our glorious inheritance, Your set-apart ones. And so we may know and understand what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of Your power IN AND FOR US WHO BELIEVE, as demonstrated in the working Your mighty strength, which You exerted in Christ when You raised Him from the dead and seated Him at Your right hand in the heavenly places. Thank You, amen.