(As the Lord has led, I am going to take some time off from my joyful labor in the Word this upcoming Sunday for Labor Day. May your Labor Day be pleasant and restful! My next new post--Lord willing--will appear on Tuesday, September 2nd).
In the midst of the steadily increasing rebellion of the world and many professing Christians in their churches where loyalty to Christ is wickedly equivocated with and measured by the mandated deeds of manmade Christianity the religion, I rejoice to write to the Church. These are the faithful saints, aspiring strong men and great women of God that in obedience to Scripture conduct themselves righteously before and make up the "church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth," (1 Timothy 3:15, NKJV). Hallelujah! As there has always been since men came to be on the earth, so, there is now a remnant standing faithful and remaining true to God.
To this remnant scattered across the globe in churches large and small, seen and unseen; some for now serving in lives of abundance, others persecuted, on the run, in hiding, hungry, thirsty and enduring unjust incarceration, I write as God has given unction to encourage us. He, who foretold the character and major trends of these latter days through Israel's prophets, Christ and His apostles and prophets for our benefit among His reasons, has not forgotten us who cling to Him in earnest, persevering faith. Think on it deeply: we are "the church of the living God" that has been brought together through faith in Christ to be of God's household and family (Ephesians 2:11-22, 3:14-21).
On the earth now and forever we stand as the singular pillar and foundational ground of the truth--Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord who declared without apology: "I am the way, the truth (emphasis mine), and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me," (John 14:6, NKJV). We have been tasked to proclaim the Gospel and witness about Him until He returns (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8). He warned us that His coming would be preceded by great upheaval among men (to include hatred and persecution of us) and in the creation. These are intensifying birth pains leading to the unprecedented paradigm shift of the arriving Kingdom of God in Christ (Luke 21:7-28)!
We must not grow weary at this moment since the travails foretold for the Church in these latter days has really only just begun. God has permitted that the violent hatred and persecution experienced by our brothers and sisters in only certain parts of the world today, shall become the experience of all before the Lord's return (Matthew 24:9; Mark 13:13; Luke 21:17). Why? Because we are identified and one with Christ. Since the world hates the Lord, they hate us too (John 15:18-25, 17:20-23). The Father has also ordained that as Christ suffered for us, so, we are privileged to suffer for His cause in the Gospel (Acts 14:21-22; Philippians 1:27-30; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12).
Such biblical talk is folly to those now participating in the escalating, foretold "falling away" from the faith seen in the rebellion against God's Word and order among many professing Christians in their churches (2 Thessalonians 2:3, NKJV). For this reason, we call for soul deep repentance among these rebels and petition our God for the fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit so urgently needed to revive even those hearts growing weary and discouraged within the ranks of the faithful. The Spirit's reviving fire will renew the persevering resolve of the faithful to endure and also re-energize our efforts to fulfill our part in the Gospel's global proclamation (Matthew 24:13-14).
A Christian music group called Rend Collective captured in a catchy, upbeat 2012 song entitled, Build Your Kingdom Here, what should be the yearning heart of every professing Christian that understands our need for revival at this hour. The words of the first verse are: Come set Your rule and reign in our hearts again. Increase in us we pray; unveil why we're made. Come set our hearts ablaze with hope like wild fire in our very souls. Holy Spirit invade us now. The first chorus is: We are Your church; we need your power in us. The second and third choruses respectively are: We are Your church; we pray revive and We are Your church; we are the hope on earth.
We are "the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth!" Revived in the Spirit's fire, the Church armed with the Holy Scripture is the world's last mortal human source of hope to hear of the grace and mercy of God proclaimed in the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:14-16; Philippians 2:13-16; Revelation 14:6-7). Though impostor, religionist, rebel and apostate Christians betray us to the death; though the whole world hate and seek to destroy our numbers from the earth, a blessed faithful remnant will yet stand strong to the very end testifying to the awesome greatness of our God (Matthew 5:10-12; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 14:8-13, 16:12-16)! The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, "Who is on the Lord's side?"
With the Lord, I find sadly humorous those professing Christian leaders that exalt and admire the Old Testament prophets for their at times very harsh rebuke of Israel in sin who then turn around and condemn the contemporary prophets in this New Testament era sent to them for so easily finding critical things to say about the churches in sin declaring, “God is about love.” Hypocrites! Most assuredly “God is love” (1 John 4:8, NKJV), but He is also holy, righteous and just and therefore, judges sin wherever it is found including among those who profess to know Him as His people (Hebrews 10:30-31).
It is because God loved Israel that He sent the prophets to warn them of His judgment for their sins if they might repent, but they did not (2 Chronicles 36:15-16). It is because God loves sinners that He sent Christ into the world to die for our sins so that those who believe might be removed from eternal condemnation on the condition of their continuing faith and mutual love motivated obedience (John 3:16-21, 5:24, 14:19-24; 1 John 3:4-9). Otherwise, there is no other remedy for practicing sinners whether they never place faith in Christ or “draw back” from it in disobedience (John 8:21-24; Hebrews 10:26-29, 35-39, NKJV). Even so, our gracious God is ready to forgive the repentant!
Not the proud man who stubbornly resists admitting he has been wrong, but it is the man who humbles himself in brokenness and repentance from his sins that enjoys God’s grace in forgiveness (Psalm 32:1-5, 51:16-17; Proverbs 3:34; Isaiah 57:15; James 4:4-10; 1 Peter 5:5-6). If you, Christian leader that is guilty, will not repent seeking to save face among other reasons in the flesh, be reminded that knowing the right thing to do, but refusing to do it is sin (James 4:17). Also, as you have no doubt proclaimed to others, pride and haughtiness precede destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Know too for a certainty that God has warned and called you to repentance through this His servant and yours in the 2013 blog series on worship and this edited epilogue He led me to post. As a result, I fulfill the ministry He in love for you called me to (Ezekiel 33:1-11; Romans 12:3-8; 2 Timothy 4:1-5)!
Originally Posted September 29, 2013
In wrapping up the series of blogs the Lord led me to write entitled, Worshipping God Without God beginning September 8, 2013 there were a number of things that were left unsaid that I now present in a series of short statements.
To the triune God, Maker of the heavens and the earth, my God, my hope, my joy and my life; to You be my heartfelt worship, praise and adoration for all of who You are and all of your goodness to me both now and forever--Amen! Father, there is no one greater! Lord Jesus, my Savior and Champion: how awesome You are and pleased I am to praise You forever as one eternally grateful for your work to save a wretch like me! Holy Spirit, my constant Companion and Helper: thank You for bringing the love of the triune God to me and making possible my expression of it back to You! O God, you deserve so much better than what You are being offered as worship from us on earth.
To my Jewish brothers in Christ for whom I rejoice and am well pleased to be among and share as a Gentile in God’s salvation through grace by faith effected as of a first priority for you (Romans 1:16): you are of God’s continuing elect of your people since the earliest Jewish disciples that have enjoyed the initial realization of His promises in Christ (Romans 11:1-15) who is the Son of God and David soon to return to sit on His throne at Jerusalem (Psalm 110:1-2; Matthew 22:41-46).
As He spoke to the woman at the well “salvation is of the Jews,” so is everything pertaining to it historically (John 4:22; Romans 9:1-5, NKJV) and in the prophetic future yet to be fulfilled through Christ that true worshippers among the Gentiles celebrate with you (Isaiah 49:22-23; Zechariah 8:20-23). To the extent this is not true among any Gentiles professing to be Christians, forgive their willful ignorance and very importantly, do not compromise what you know is right from God’s Word following after their corruptions especially in worship! Instead, you who have suffered double persecution, lead the way before us in what pleases God through your obedience as did your first century Jewish predecessors, the Lord’s apostles most prominent among them (Revelation 3:7-9).
To my white brothers especially of Conservative Evangelicalism who are guilty not as you judge, but God: loving me and all of your black brothers has not been given to you as an option by God. It is commanded! Therefore, all failure to love your brothers in the Body of Christ is willful disobedience. As a result, your covert racism toward black Americans (trotting all over the third world helping and taking pictures with Africans and other people of color does not remove your guilt) causes you not only to continue to offer up polluted worship to God that is rejected, but many professors of Christ among you have died and will die entering eternity without Him because of clinging to it (Matthew 7:21-23; 1 John 3:10-15).
Also, the love Christ commands is not to be just words spoken insincerely in theory, but backed up by deeds (1 John 3:16-24). Repent now so God may send Holy Ghost revival that will supply His love to the many cold, dead hearts unable to love your brothers of color as equals and on an equal basis as you love yourselves. Nevertheless, many that read this will perish refusing to obey the call to repentance because it is coming from a black man. Surely, God is wise in all of His ways (Proverbs 27:12)!
To my black brothers in all of the major denominations caught up in Christianity the religion of men passed down to you by your former masters who are guilty: you pride yourselves on being free from the control of white men. So then, who is now holding you captive to carry on all of your traditional practices that cancel out obedience to the Word of God as it is written and pollute your world renowned, enthusiastically offered worship to God; worship which only pleases you and those entertained by all of your performance not God? While it is true from God’s Word that “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17, NKJV), the Spirit will never sanction sin or lead God’s people to sin in offering worship polluted through disobedience (1 John 1:5-7).
If you are truly free in Christ, then realize you are free to serve Him faithfully and obediently as a lifestyle of worship as He requires and not just a Sunday only affair where performers help you get your happy on! Also, our Christian slave forefathers learned singing to God lifts burdened hearts not as some cathartic release induced by the singing itself, but through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in faith filled hearts fulfilling the words of Christ found in Matthew 11:25-30. Repent, therefore, from your “old time religion,” wicked ways practiced even on Sunday and any bitterness of heart toward your white brothers in Christ which has already sent many to Hell, so you may offer up an authentic worship to God (Mark 11:25-26; Hebrews 12:12-17).
Finally, to my sisters in Christ who are guilty especially those of my own race and culture that beyond question have all of the right stuff in spiritual fervor and leadership skills to lead anybody’s worship of God: repent and voluntarily relinquish your leading of the worship of the whole church! Remember the divine response to Miriam when she challenged the leadership calling of her brother, Moses, and Sapphira when she blindly followed in the sin of her husband (Numbers 12; Acts 5:1, 7-10).
Your fervor for God, desire and ability to lead His worship is not somehow wasted because He has not elected you to lead the whole church in usurpation of men whom He has chosen. Thinking like this comes from the sinful flesh; a desire to be seen and heard by mortal flesh rather than the eternal God who has put His holy fire in you and called you to honor Him first with submission in this present age (Luke 1:38)! It is not about you in performance, but it is about what God has required for His own worship (1 Corinthians 14:34-37).
As an aspiring great woman of God in the image of Christ, pleasing Him in love and obedience should be your highest concern (John 14:15). Stop letting Satan deceive you into believing out of a rebellious, worldly feminist disgruntlement that you are being short changed by glory hogging men that want the spotlight all to themselves. Woe to any man in the flesh that is doing this as a worship leader or preacher! Instead, like Miriam before her sin, joyfully lead your daughters as well as fellow sisters in the churches, prisons and scattered as lost sheep in the community who need your fervor for Christ and leadership among them (Exodus 15:20-21). Your faith, submission, self-control and service will be richly rewarded by the Lord here and now as well as eternally if you will obey!
Of the greatest privileges redeemed sinners have been granted through faith in Christ is to draw near to worship the Holy God! Yet, in the spiritual confusion to include open idolatry and cultural conditioning that has characterized much of outwardly professing Christianity since the second century and now reaches its zenith during these latter days, ostensible worship of God has been very corrupt. Most visible today is the defiant break made with the divine order plainly taught in the Scriptures in order to allow women to lead the worship of God when the entire church is assembled out of the world’s notion of equality among other carnal and evil motives.
The leading of worship by women has occurred in spite of the fact that God in His prophetic Word has made it clear that the divine order continues under Christ at His coming and millennial reign; men will be the exclusive worship leaders in Jerusalem’s temple (Isaiah 9:6-7; Ezekiel 40:46, 43:1-12, 44:10-31). The immutable God has not changed the order of His house during this present, mortal age, nor will He ever! Surely then, what has been done to allow all manner of unacceptable worship in the churches is sin in the sight of and rejected by God. Ever consistent in His actions toward men, God in His longsuffering love warns and calls the guilty to repentance through this three part blog series and follow up epilogue the Holy Spirit led me to post in 2013.
Originally Posted September 8, 2013
A young preacher asked me in the past year, “whose side are you on?” referring to my taking exception to the conduct of church leaders as a group that stood over and against the people who should expect that they would do right as a matter of godly leadership. I have run into this carnal game of picking sides (1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 3:1-4) and the resulting negative attitudes displayed when I have chosen the wrong side in someone’s eyes my entire journey as a Christian. It is shown by silent contempt, hostile acts of ostracism and verbal put downs expressed most often on the sly from the pulpit and a few times, to my face.
For the record, I have always sought to stand on the side of God’s Word in everything for this is righteous and pleasing to Him. That anyone claiming to know the Lord should be offended by that is reliable evidence of their disconnect from Him and very often also the flesh sustained practice of religion. Preachers as a clique versus the people for example, should never be nor should there be divisions in the Body of Christ over worship styles if we really understood what God in His Word teaches worship is all about.
On this day in thousands of churches around the globe (and the relative few in purposeful legalism that met yesterday) professing Christians assembled ostensibly to worship the triune God. In many languages, types of cultural expression and styles of music songs were sung to God for divine enjoyment and acceptance. However, the question of the hour is did the triune God enjoy and accept that worship or was there offense and rejection?
Many professing Christians and their leaders believe that God does enjoy and accept all worship sincerely offered like parents who receive the performance of songs, art, dance etc. from their little children which they would dare not disparage in fear of wounding their precious self-esteem. This is, in fact, what seems to be behind why a number of pastors in this last century have willfully disobeyed God’s Word on the roles of women in the worship assembly because all of the associated activity is considered performance. In their thinking, it is unfair not to allow the daughters of God to have a equal opportunity with His sons to perform in the activities of worship so He can delight in it all as a human parent.
God in His Word makes it clear that He does not see, think or do as sinful, fallen men (Isaiah 55:8-9). God is set apart from and other than man His creature (Exodus 3:13-14, 19:10-25; Isaiah 40:12-26, 43:10-13, 44:6, 46:5). While it is absolutely true that we are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), due to sin, that image has been marred and we corrupted to the very core of our being. We do not naturally think God’s thoughts, possess His attitudes or walk in His ways. Therefore, God, the living God rejects the premise that worship of Him out of sinful, fallen human flesh as it pleases us also pleases Him lest our self-esteem be hurt. It is not about us but Him!
Indeed, God is a God of order. When He says that He wants to be worshipped in a certain way that is what He means. You do not come up with your own worship and expect that just because it was sincere or from your fallen heart that He ought to just enjoy and accept it. A case in point is the “profane fire” the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu of the first priests of Israel offered to the Lord which He had not commanded. Holy, destroying fire immediately went from the Lord to completely consume them on the spot (Leviticus 10:1-2, NKJV)!
When Moses comforted his brother, Aaron, in the instant death of his sons, he spoke a word of transcendent, eternal truth to him and all that would purpose to worship God. ‘“This is what the Lord spoke saying: By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; and before all the people I must be glorified,”’ (Leviticus 10:3, NKJV). So much for anyone offering up any old kind of worship they please to please Him in Israel and in this epoch of the Church!
Though we are not required to worship God in the specific rituals of Israel, Christians are nevertheless, to worship in the way God the Father has ordained in Christ; always treating Him as holy and respecting His Person. Our Lord Jesus taught that the worshippers the Father seeks are those that draw near to do so “in spirit and truth” because “God is Spirit,” (John 4:21-24, NKJV). This by no means is a liberal minded Jesus giving permission to bring whatever you want as worship and it will be accepted because what was offered was spirited (emotion charged) or sincere.
Spirit has to do with direct fellowship with God--our spirit in oneness with Him who is Spirit (John 17:20-23). Truth has to do with honesty about our inner condition (Isaiah 6:1-7). We are able to enter into God’s presence, into the Holy of Holies at all only through the shed blood and veil of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19-22). This was something Israel’s high priest was able to do only once a year on the Day of Atonement when he entered the Holy of Holies with the blood of an animal to provide a covering atonement for the people’s sins committed the previous year.
But in God’s New Covenant, 1 we remain in His presence offering up the continual worship of faithful and obedient lives (Romans 12:1-2) made possible by Christ’s once and for all atonement through His blood which daily and as often as we have need, we may draw upon in confession and repentance for sin removal by forgiveness and cleansing (1 John 1:5-2:2). Therefore, are we really authentically connected to God and drawing near truthfully to offer acceptable worship when at the same time we are acting in willful disobedience to any part of His Word especially things in the worship He has forbidden such as women as leaders?
1 See the January 2014 blog posts, God’s New Covenant and Party Of The Second Part, Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 for instruction on New Covenant.
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