LIFE IN THE SPIRIT

OUR GOAL: ALWAYS PROVOCATIVE - ALWAYS BIBLICAL - ALWAYS EDIFYING. If you haven't already, please log on to our Kingdom Gospel Ministries website for a lot of info and THREE new radio programs you can hear online each week - a provocative radiodrama, a message from Current Events, and a verse by verse expository message! All at www.kingdomgospelministries.org

My Photo
Name:
Location: Horsham, Pennsylvania, United States

John is a "Tentmaking Evangelist" (Architect). Licensed and set aside for ministry by the Anchor Bay Evangelistic Association (non-denominational). Co-Founder of Kingdom Gospel Ministries, a ministry now in its 36th year with a mission to reconcile people of different racial, ethnic, educational, and economic situations, and the producer of three weekly radio programs - a Sunday morning verse-by-verse Bible Study on Radio Delaware Valley, a weekly message from current events in California, and a weekly radio drama on the Wilkins Radio network. He also has archived many, many radio programs and written articles on the Internet. John is a PA/NJ Architect with his own practice in its 43rd year working on a wide variety of projects including churches, convenience stores, residences, and academies as well as industrial enterprises. He has helped in numerous property acquisitions and worked with real estate investors. Acutely interested in politics since a teenager with many articles published over the last 55 years, he served as a guest on a Talk Radio show discussing race relations and on "It's Your Call" TV show with Lynn Doyle dealing with the subject of interethnic marriage.

Monday, September 5, 2011

WHO AM I???

In the course of human events, people want to categorize us.  I do not say this in a negative way - people simply want to know who they are dealing with and what kinds of belief systems are driving the person. The problem is that almost all of the categories Christians are pegged for have something lacking (You might want to ask me about my booklet on Doctrine which goes through a lot of detail on the large variances we are dealing with today.)

The days of being simply a "Christian" are long gone.  We all are IMMEDIATELY suspicious when someone says they are a Christian.  We tend not to believe it.  Why?  Because from experience, talk more and they have nary a clue.  Then we used "born again" Christian.  That worked for a while, but then people liked the ring of it and before long 75% or more Americans told George Gallup they were "born again".  George Barna did a poll that wasn't multiple choice, but simply asked people to define "born-again".  Only 7% of Americans could define it.  While some who aren't Christians could likely define, that still leaves close to 9 out of 10 of those who say they are born again can't define that term Biblically. By the way,  I am sure that some people are saved but are not good at collecting their thoughts, but it sure explains why so few people witness for the Lord. And on it goes.  Still I  AM a Christian.

How about Fundamentalist?  Seems like a good idea - concentrate on and defend the Fundamentals of the faith. That is my heritage. But what happened. People insisted you had to use the King James version only. Someone would quit high school band because playing the theme from "The Sound of Music" was too worldly.  A concentration on the end times with the recent idea of a pre-trib rapture with no suffering fit in well with American exceptionalism and perceived invincibility and protected status, but ignored the suffering of the saints for two Millenia just about everywhere else (and if the truth be told - violence against the saints in early America and almost total marginalization and ridicule in the present days).  However, learning to defend the scripture and understanding the centrality of a six-day creation to Biblical understanding were high points. I will always hold in high esteem being told that what the Bible says is to be taken over what the church says.  Too bad they did not take it well when I actually did that in certain areas.  Anti-movie and dancing pledges and in some quarters rigid dress codes, banning of beards, etc. were kookie.  That said, how many good movies are there you can see and what about the yucky trailers for coming attractions even when you find a good, clean one?  AND, aside from dancing with your wife or country, square, or line dancing, can anyone recommend dancing some of the sensual dances with just any woman, particularly someone else's wife? You might be interested to know that despite the narrow definition thought of by many Christians,  the world considers ANYONE who believes the Bible to be true and Christ the only way to be a Fundamentalist.   All things considered, I have to consider myself in that company as well.

And then there is that term Evangelical.  I consider myself one even though I am distressed in spirit that so many have compromised the inerrancy of the word of God and the exclusivity of salvation through Christ.  Christian College and Seminary after Christian College and Seminary have DEEPLY compromised the word of God. They wanted status and respect and brought in people who really are not solid in their faith. These folks purvey compromise.  People have given me evangelical book after evangelical book.  Some by InterVarsity, some by others. From outright opposing Christ's own account of creation written on Moses' stone tablets to :"understanding" homosexuality and being sensitive to Islam to demonizing white Christians in particular, I am hesitant to even use the word. They seem to be on a slippery slope.  However, those who say they are NOT Evangelicals are even more compromised so if I have to make a distinction with nominal Christianity, I must say I am an Evangelical.

How about "Spirit-filled"?  Did you know that fewer than 3 our 10 people who consider themselves Pentecostal have EVER spoken in tongues?  And we all know people who haven't done it for a long time. We all know that not long after Azuza Street, the groups fractured and a lot of non-Biblical theology took over.  From hyper-legalism, separate white and Black streams to Oneness doctrine to leaders of deeply compromised character to still exploding denominations with more disunity than any other branch of Christianity,  Pentecostalism became centered on experiences and on itself as opposed to simple following of Christ.  Yet I am a son of Pentecost and embrace Penttecostal distinctives if not the subculture itself.  I was set aside for ministry by a Pentecostal fellowship, and I value that, but that is not all I am.

Then there was a newer, supposedly improved version - the  Charismatic.  People that were interdenominational and who sought to break down walls.  I was a member of an interdenomninational Charismatic church for many years and had a lot of wonderful experiences.  I still go there periodically. While some born-again folk are suspicious of Catholic Charismatics, some of whom used the term similarly to Protestants, but a substantial number of  others used it simply to mean people who were looking to the Bible or having contemportary worship. Nowdays, so many people who use the term Charismatic  preach things opposite from the Bible that it is getting dangerous and counterproductive to use that term to describe oneself anymore.  We see Word-Faith, blogs filled with conversations with angels, prophecy sites with off-the-wall stuff that does not agree with the Bible, hyper-authoritarian "Apostles" who control a lot of people and a lot of wealth, and with the Third Wave inspired by Toronto and Brownsville and Lakeland "services" where people really do act drunk, and the wilder the better.  So though I operate in the gifts of the Spirit, this is one label I tend to avoid unless I am with the shrinking company of Biblically sound Charismatics loyal to the true Holy Spirit, in which case I would surely identify with them.

Well, there are more labels, but that is enough.  I prefer New Testament Christian.  If it is in the Bible, I am for it.  Now you smarties out there will surely tell me there are "New Testament Churches" out there
who teach all manner of things and who disagree with each other on just about everything. (Sigh).

I love Jesus. I am a servant of Christ. I am one of his Ambassadors on this earth. I want to sow to the Spirit and not to the flesh.  I want to do my part in obeying the Great Commission. I want to be prepared to give an answer to every man who asks me about the hope that lies within me. I want to know the Word of God inside out like Jesus did and have the faith to believe and obey every Word of it.

Is that good enough?  Or do we have to keep playing "Who Am I"?

Well, I finally made the trek to Times Sqjuare Church.  Had to get there an hour early to be assured of a seat. People from all lover the world (at the visitors reception there were people from Paris, Nigeria, Brazil, etc.).  A church without any obvious political or cultural baggage that appeals on a regular basis to over 100 nations?  Well, yes.  And I suppose that some were "New Testament", "Pentecostal", "Charismatic", "Evangelical", "Fundamental",just plain "Christian" and a healthy helping of "seekers" just checking out the place."  I have often noted that in many churches the pastors come out after the worship. Never figured that one out. In this case, they were out a half hour BEFORE worship pacing the platform praying.  In fact, the entire carriage of the leaders from the worship leader to the Senior Pastor was genuinely humble and refreshing. The word was solid and encouraging and what kept standing out to me was the lack of ego-involvement that is the scourge of so many places today. I really was looking at SERVANTS of God, and it was a blessing. They passed the telltale sign of the offering - it was low key and ZERO pressure. No scourge there. And the musicians praised God without drawing undue attention to themselves - it was all about God.

So you see, it is possible for a wide variety of nations and ideas to gather around the throne of God - that is his eternal design. So how does all this speak to the church as a whole?  Is there a need for our doctrine to be brought into Biblical unity?  Of course! There is only ONE SET of truth!   Is there a need for excess to be reigned in?  Of course!   Wildness and attention-getting antics have no place in the church.  Does giving have to return to the New Testament pattern?  You betcha!  It must be dignified, voluntary, and without insulting God by tying strings to our giving.  Does church have to be more like I Corinthians 14 with a plurality of ministry at each service with the gifts operating?  I desire that with all my heart.

The message to the church as whole is first of all to gather together as they did. A place where people of all cultures and political inclinations can relax knowing that there is one God to be worshiped.  A dignified service where the desire is to worship God and not ourselves, and to hear the word from men of God who see themselves as servants of his.  With these basics in line, I believe we will be in position to be taught accurately the word of God, learn discernment so as not to be drawn in by false prophecies and visions and vain imaginations, and to live soberly in these trying times.

Who Am I?  A member of the Body of Jesus Christ. An Ecvangelist called by Him. A servant of the most high God.  That is quite enough.

Labels:

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home