Under Authority

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. (Romans 13:1)

God’s will is never in conflict with itself, period. God’s will is never in conflict with His word, period. This presents us with a number of perceived difficulties, and a major perceived difficulty when it comes to authority. The questions always come up “What about Hitler?” Of course we come up with the pat answer (which is true) and say something like... “When a governing authority commands you to contradict a higher authority (God), then you must obey the higher authority.” I think there is some debate that could occur here, but that is not the point of this post.

The primary reason for this post is to speak on authority in your church. Often times when the leadership of a local congregation appears to be going the wrong direction, or something occurs that appears to be in opposition to the will of God, people within that congregation will believe that somehow they are no longer under the authority of the leadership of that congregation. It is as if the authority of the church leaders is established based on their obedience as opposed to God’s placing them in authority. Even in the case of the unconverted church elder, converted or not, they have been given authority and as a congregation member, you are under it. Remember, “There is NO authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” This includes within the church. When you agree to membership within a church, you are recognizing the authority structure within that church to be over you, and are agreeing to fall in line with that authority. Now I want to get to my main point, the power of God upon you to change the direction of your congregation, your work place, your school, etc... will be most manifest when you operate within the established authority. This is really important. Too often people think they need to climb the authority ladder to have impact, or even worse, bypass the authority structure altogether. My work is primarily with youth, and this is a huge struggle for converted youth. God so often will light a fire in a youth, and immediately the flesh will fight back and lead the youth to believe they are now in a position of authority because they have more zeal than the people above them, it seems adults do the same thing. God will not work powerfully in you and produce anything of eternal worth through you unless you function within the authority structure which you exist. Look at the reformation, Luther functioned within and under the authority of the Catholic Church. He went to the Diet of Worms, he functioned as a minister within the church, he submitted to the authorities of the time regardless of his disdain for them. Even his act of defiance with the 95 theses was not so much a blatant disobedience to authority but a proclamation of what he saw to be true. God fired the reformation from within the existing authority structure. Wesley operated under the authority of the Anglican Church until he was removed from it. Over and over again you see this. The fly by night guys that are trying to reform your congregation by gathering people behind leader’s backs, or trying to overpower the existing authorities will never succeed because though they may have grand intentions they have neglected the God ordained authority structure.

I know this all seems passive, and maybe as a reader of this post you disagree and feel that you are called to reform your church or challenge the authority that exists, I would only tell you to tread lightly and carefully. Even Jesus who has all authority subjected Himself to the powers that be, yea even the Pharisees. God will empower your efforts for reform if you trust Him to use you right where you are.

Finally, in the last post I spoke a little on the next great awakening, and I do believe it is begun and happening across this country and world, at the same time I think that the one thing that will stall it, and is stalling it is a lack of submission to, and comprehension of, authority. People from about 30 downward (speaking generally knowing this is not true 100% of the time) have little or no concept of biblical authority. Unfortunately a number of people who could contribute greatly to this awakening will not be given the power of God to do so because they are in ‘hostile takeover’ mode as opposed to humble submission mode. Again it is not a position of power we need, we need the power of God upon our current position.


The 4th generation

Will you be a part of the next great awakening? This is an important question, and you should give it due diligence. God is always in the process of raising up a people who will glorify His Name amongst the people. Are you one of the many He is raising up? If not, why not? If so, what evidence is there that you are one of them?

Maybe the end will come during this season of immorality, where everyone seems to do what is right in their own eyes. It is very possible that we are living in the last of the last days. At the same time there is evidence that we may be on the brink of the next great awakening, and with the nature of communication via internet, mp3s, video broadcasting and so on this great awakening may be much further reaching than any of the past. Wesley had to ride over 200,000 miles on horseback to preach the gospel to New England. Today he could preach to them all in one place, at one time. Communication technology amplifies everything, the good and the bad. Here is what I find interesting, at the time of the 1st great awakening there were a lot of big churches with big congregations that found it fashionable to be Church goers. People mentally ascended to the great doctrines of truth, but there was no reality. Along come the Wesley brothers, Jonathan Edwards, Whitefield, Brainerd, and many more... and God shook the church so much with them that they were in many cased kicked out, ridiculed, and scorned. At the same time, many long time church goers came to faith, and many lost were reached. Over time the next generation became used to religious life and embraced it, but saw it as the norm and failed to promote it, or teach the great cost which it came at. Soon the third generation forsook it all together, or only maintaining a form of Godliness which was void of its power. The key then became to get people into church by whatever means possible. What then happened? The Civil war with its tawdry crimes and filthy perversions of the Gospel by both the north and south was the result of the lack of spiritual fortitude from the 3rd generation after the great awakening. But what came next? After the Civil war there was a renewed interest in Christ, and a fresh moving of God amongst the 4th generation. Almost like clockwork the second generation of the second awakening became complacent, and then the third generation produced the Roar twenties which near their completion may have been the most morally decadent time this country has known. The swinging generation was in full swing. Then of course came catastrophe, the great depression, but in the midst of the great depression and world wars arose a generation that would be the men of World War II. These men brought America back to the place she should be. There was a renewal across the land that produced great men and women and a renewed interest in Christ and what His desires were. Of course this was followed by the Boomers who were complacent, and they eventually produced the sexual revolution of the late 60s and early 70s which eventually produce the 3rd generation of the Roaring 90s thru the turn of the century. Gen X would be the third generation and we can see today the results. At the same time, if history continues to repeat that would mean a new generation is rising up, and that we are on the brink of something, something big.
Now it is important to note, this post is not about bashing generations older than mine. There have always been strong men and women of the 2nd and 3rd generations that provide the direction to awakenings. Moreover many in the 2nd and 3rd generations are awakened by and with the next generation. It is a total cop out for people of my generation or any generation to blame the previous generation for their failures. I am simply saying that it appears we are in a cycle of history, and if we are, we may be at a very promising time.

Just as a side note, you can see this 3 generation cycle all the way back in exodus, and playing itself out throughout both ancient and modern history.


but a vapor...

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit." Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that." But as it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
(James 4:13-17)

If there is one thing that is tragically ignored in scripture it is the simple fact that you will die. I know this is beyond basic but it is important. Forgetting the simple fact that we are mortal so far as this life is concerned will leave you chasing after all sorts nonsense and falling into all sorts of immorality. Was it not the serpent himself who said... “You surely will not die!” to Eve in the garden as she considered the original sin. It is unthinkable that our focus would be on the past, or even the future heaven, and that our focus is not on Thy kingdom come, thy will be done... now. Yes it is important to consider the glory to come, and yes it is important to remember the foundation which is past, but today is the appointed day, for you do not know if tomorrow will come.
I work with youth, and this is the most difficult truth to set forth to them. Most youth actually plan on wasting their time, thinking they will become ‘religious’ when they get older, and of course by the time they are 20 their heart is case hardened against the Gospel. They see death all around them, in their TV shows, in their Video games, in the news, and everywhere else and yet the simple fact that death is eventually coming their way escapes them. I am only 27 years old, and yet I have already accumulated much wasted time over the 7 years of my Christian life. I have wasted hours on countless things, from internet chess, to mountain bikes, to staring at the ceiling too lazy to get up and do something. Yet if I had any focus on how short lived life was, I would not waste my time. I am not against biking, or chess, or even zoning out and looking at the ceiling, but these trivial things which are of no eternal value slowly begin to take over everything. What was an occasional game of chess becomes continuing to think about chess even during worship, or dinner with your family. What was a healthy bike ride, becomes concerns with having better parts on your bike, where your next big trip is going to be, and if you are ever going to be able to tackle that tricky downhill section of trail. We let so many things and thoughts choke eternity out of our mind, and yet a simple reflection on the brevity of life will clear all that up in an instant. Do you not know that your life is a vapor? We prayed at church this morning for a family who lost their 23 year daughter in a tragic accident. The accident occurred during a Christmas performance at her church when she fell from 20 feet up. As this was being spoken of everyone felt sad for the family and so on as it is proper to do, but I wonder if the brevity of life entered into anyone’s mind.
Redeem the times for the days are evil. With all that said, there appear to be some interesting developments occurring in my life right now. I am not so sure what the Lord has in store, but day to day he seems to be unveiling a plan I could have never dreamed. I will give more info as I am able... Lord willing. Right now I would ask you to consider praying that the Lord would be glorified by my life, and by yours as well.


The Arrogance of a dumbed down gospel

First let me say that my wife has been a tremendous blessing to me the last few days. I do not say this to get brownie points, she does not read my blog, she does not need to, we talk about the things I write together long before I can ever articulate them in a blog post. If you are the type that spends your time on the internet learning, and posting in discussion groups, and everything else and yet never discusses the things of God with your family… well go out to your shed and find that old sledge hammer and just crush your computer with it, or else that computer will crush you and your family. I have come to realize that so many are trying to witness online, and doing their theology online, and getting everything online, and yet in the real world it is not there. It is as though people are having an online affair with the Lord or something, but they keep it from everyone else, lest they find out about it. Everyone is a big bad theologian in a discussion group, but what are they at home? Realize this, in a sense we are not just the bride of Christ, but we are like a trophy wife that He wants to parade in front of the rest of the world (I apologize if that is a profane metaphor.) Anyway my wife and I have had wonderful conversations the last few days, and the Lord is really upon her, and as a husband I have been tremendously blessed and humbled by it. Husbands, when your wife is being used of the Lord to help you, never one-up her, if she is sharing revelation she has had with you, do not be so quick to add to it, as though you already understand all the things she is saying. It is the Lord using your wife to help you, receive the help graciously. Yes you are the leader, but real leaders will take and hear the council of those under their authority often.

Anyway that was an introduction that was mostly unrelated to the body of this post. I want to speak for a moment on the arrogance of most preachers today. Millions, yea, billions of dollars are spent by congregations across this country and the world each year to determine how to be culturally relevant. We know from scripture that there is no reason to worry about relevance when it takes the power of God to regenerate a soul. Something that I have found fascinating is that I have to stretch with all of my spirit and all of my mind to comprehend the things that the preachers during the Great Awakening preached. Maybe not you, but I struggle when I read the sermons of Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, and John Wesley. Even when listening to Spurgeon sermons being read I often have to stop and look something up, or afterwards spend a bit of time processing and trying to understand all his points. It is a difficult thing because of the depth and breadth of their preaching. The reason I bring this up is because when you look at the men and women who were profoundly impacted by these people’s ministries you will find out that they were commoners, publicans, farmers, and people of typically low learning. Especially in the case of the Wesley and Whitefield. The point is this, people are incapable of being converted by the gospel if it is preached in a very simple way, or if it is preached in a very intellectual way… unless of course God opens the unbelievers heart to the message. At the same time, if God is upon the preaching, you can put together a theological masterpiece of a Sermon like Jonathan Edwards was known to do, and yet even the most common of people are granted understanding and conversion. There is no need to dumb down the Gospel because peoples conversion was never dependent on YOUR ability to make the gospel easy to understand. I would go so far as to say that the Lord has often used the most challenging of sermons to develop His people further. In the name of reaching out to the common man, we have forgone the power of God for a ploy. This shows the arrogance of the typical preacher as well. For whatever reason, they feel as though they need to dumb down the truth so that you and I, the common people, can understand it. They are wrong. If the power of God is upon it, the preaching will change your life, even if you cannot understand all the point.

Ok, that was a rant, and probably of little value, I guess I am tired of everything being geared to the unconverted. It has come to the point where the unconverted have more say into what church is going to be like than the true children of God do. I believe strongly in the great commission and make it a goal to live it out, but it is not the only command in the word, and you cannot neglect the rest of the scripture in order to attempt to fulfill that one point, when you do so God will not be in it.

I hope to post again soon about the exciting times we live in. I do believe we are on the brink, maybe even in the midst a great ingathering of new saints.