FINDING THE REALITY OF GOD - PARIS REIDHEAD
During more than forty years spent in service to the Lord I have come to realize that the mass-produced product now passing for “Christian” bears little or no resemblance to the powerful reality of Christ that can and must be the hallmark of every true child of God.
In his book “The Twilight of a Great Civilization” Carl F. Henry states: “We are so steeped in the anti-Christ philosophy, namely, that success consists in embracing not the values of the Sermon on the Mount, but an infinity of material things, of sex and status – that we little sense how much of what we possess of a practical Christianity really is an apostate compromise with the spirit of this age.”
John F. MacArthur Jr., in his book, “The Gospel According to Jesus” states “Preachers offer people happiness, joy, fulfillment and all things positive. Present day Christians are taught that all they have to do is find a person’s psychological needs, then offer Jesus as a panacea for whatever the problem is. It is very easy to get a response, because people are looking for quick solutions to their felt needs.”
This is no new concern among evangelicals. More than thirty years ago, A.W. Tozer wrote a book in which he expressed “a sorrowful concern for the spiritual welfare of the church.” He said, “The failure in current evangelism lies in its humanistic approach.” He described much of the activity among Christians of that day as “motion without progress.”
We have reached a critical point in evangelism today, and need to admit that something is wrong – wrong with us and in us. God’s Word says that Jesus Christ has not changed and never will (Hebrews 13:8). So it is time we looked deep into our own hearts for answers to our ineffectiveness as witnesses in the world around us concerning the reality of Christ.
Those at the forefront of evangelical circles today need to hear the echo of God’s words spoken through Ezekiel long ago: “The diseases have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost” (Ezekiel 34:4)
They [church goers] have made a “decision for Christ” and are active in programs that keep them busy – but they are not blessed. Others I’ve met boldly confess that they “grew up Christian” and are following the tradition of their Christian parents and regularly attending church. They were taught attending church is the right thing to do.
For many people in our churches salvation is all in their minds. This will result in their missing heaven by 18 inches, because God’s salvation has never gotten down from their heads into their hearts, where Christ can become their life. They know the verses, but they do not know Him; whom to know is life eternal.
Many are disillusioned with Christianity. They have yet to realize that salvation is not a plan, not in a scripture verse, not in ordinances and not in a scheme of theology. Salvation is not a decision and not a pronouncement of an evangelist, a pastor or a teacher.
We shouldn’t wonder that Christianity is not “working” for some people. God’s purpose is not simply to give us a ticket to heaven. Some Christians still feel empty, even lonely. They find Christianity is not the life-transforming, freeing venture they expected. This is true for many church leaders, missionaries and countless men and women in the pews.
Many of these honest folks are saying what Oswald Chamber said before he met God in a powerful way: “If what I presently possess is all of Christianity there is, the thing is a fraud.”
The Christian faith is based on the cardinal truth that salvation is not giving mental assent to a set of doctrinal statements; salvation is a person – Jesus Christ. Misunderstanding this point has created a generation of disillusion and ineffective Christians. Christ did not send us salvation. He died to become our salvation.
If we admitted the truth, we evangelicals would recognize that we have dethroned the Holy Spirit, who is the only person of the Godhead in the world today, having been assigned by God to carry out His plan of salvation for mankind.
Charles Spurgeon declared “If we have not the Spirit of God, it would be better to shut the churches, to nail up the doors, to put a black cross on them and say, “God have mercy on us.”
And so I want to encourage you, just as Paul exhorted the church at Corinth: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5)