The Holy Spirit is the One who changes the church,
but we have to remember that the Holy Spirit lives in us.
It is individual people living Spirit-filled lives
that will change the church.”
by Francis Chan
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Ah. There it is. Finally. Someone said it.
Romans 8:14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. If believers are not following the leading of the Holy Spirit then the inverse of Romans 8:14 applies. Them who are not following the leading of the Holy Spirit are not the sons of God.
Everything these days seems to be a "Purpose Driven" factor. So much so that the Spirit has been taken out of it.
Derek Prince once said, “Anything that drives us is demonic.”
By teaching people to follow the leading of anything other than the Spirit of God, many church services are led by the man-made program. Many charismatic churches are now under the control of the spirit of entertainment. Instead of being Spirit friendly, most churches are “seeker friendly”. They are the ear tickling churches.
The unsaved person has basic control over most churches while the Holy Spirit is hardly even invited to attend. It has become increasingly common in Charismatic Churches for the service to begin without even a word of prayer, and quenching the move of the Spirit for the sake of the schedule is the norm. This shift away from the being Spirit-led to program-led has caused the churches to become full of goats, unbelievers, those who are not the children of God. This opened the door for the devil to begin to drive these churches like a herd of goats.
Thousands of churches across the U.S. have now participated in the 40 Days of Purpose. This program by the author of The Purpose Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren, actually encourages churches to become driven by the motive of numerical growth, rather than obedience to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Just one of the many problems that I have with "Purpose Driven" is that people have been taught that it is PEOPLE who change things. People who move the world. People who change people. People who change the church.
Well, ok, actually it is true, but not in the way they want it to be true. When people try and create this grand design and change on their own, without the involvement of the Holy Spirit, the change that they affect is a cheap imitation. It's costume jewelry compared to a rare and precious gem.
Purpose Driven. Your Best Life Now. So forth and so on. It's the illusion of Christianity. God is a kind God. God doesn't want anything bad to happen to you. God wants you to succeed and prosper. Well, again, all true.
But God is a just God. A jealous God. A God that, while He wants to give us HIS best, will not always give us what we want. Instead, He will give us what we need. But, he expects us to follow Him. To obey Him. To live the kind of life He has laid out for us, according to the precepts of His Word. He will not share with the world.
Choose this day whom you will serve. Joshua 24:15 (excerpt)
The problem with these "friendly faiths" is that the need for repentance, the need to acknowledge you're a sinner, the need to realize that you must do more than just believe that there's a Jesus and that He is THE ONLY way to heaven (I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life and NO MAN COMES TO THE FATHER APART FROM ME John 14:6), that's all thrown by the wayside.
What "ear tickling" churches promote is a man-centered-felt-needs, find a purpose for your life, God is love and has a wonderful plan for everyone's life theology.
They seek the culture instead of preaching the Gospel. Instead of having a Spirit-filled church filled with individuals indwelt by the Holy Spirit, seeking to tell the others the Truth that there IS a hell and without coming to Christ and acknowledging your sins and need for a Savior, they tell them, "oh, don't worry. With God everything is a-ok."
What about when tough times befall them and they suddenly find themselves thinking, "I don't understand. I was told that if I prayed this prayer that everything would be fine. I wouldn't have any more troubles. I guess I'm not such a good Christian and need to try harder." Or even this, "They lied to me! They told me it would all be just fine. All my problems would disappear. This stuff is nothing but a hoax!"
The Christian who has heard the Gospel and has a Spirit-filled life knows that hard times will come and learns to lean on the promises and provisions of God and trusts God to see them through.
Not so with the "Purpose Driven", "Your Best Life Now" Christians. With them it's more of a "power of positive thinking" personality. "If you think it, God will do it". Wonder how they feel when God says, "No" or "Not Yet", as He has definitely done to me.
Ear tickling churches, such as those, focus on a "man can do it" religion instead of a "God will do as He purposes" relationship.
I doubt very many of them have a "Spirit-filled" life because those churches avoid any mention of "the bad stuff". They avoid the subjects of Repentance, Sin, Guilt, Judgment, Hellfire, and Damnation. There are no words that cross the pulpit like hell, sin, "repent and be saved, sinner". GASP! I said the word "sinner".
Well, face it. We are ALL sinners.
For ALL have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. Romans 3:23
Ear tickling churches don't like to make people feel uncomfortable. Sprit-filled churches WILL make sinners feel uncomfortable. With the ear tickling churches it's about numbers and money and prestige. With the Spirit-filled churches it's about saving souls.
Meanwhile, pastors who have been trained in our seminaries on how to successfully manage the business of the church will take the large crowds as a sign of success. Nevermind the crowd is made up nearly entirely of unbelievers who have no intention of accepting Christ because they're not hearing anything of the Spirit in the sermons at those churches. The deception will be that as long as the money is pouring in to fund the “ministry” the church must be doing something right.
Ear tickling churches may be large and "do their part" to do social justice work (social justice is another term for socialism), but they don't go about doing the work of nourishing a soul, changing a life for Christ, saving a sinner from the fires of hell. No methodology, or level of religious commitment, can substitute for repentance towards God (Acts 20:21)
Salvation is more than a mere prayer, and all the prayer in the world cannot save a person who hasn't repented. Salvation is of God, NOT man. The Biblical Gospel excludes all forms of self-righteousness.
I view the ear tickling churches as the Pharisees of old, standing on a street corner, praying out loud about all the things THEY have done for God so that they receive the praise of man. Oh, look at all the stuff this person has done. They're so "spiritual". They are much like the Pharisees in the story below from Luke 7:36-50.
The Spirit-filled churches are like the unknown woman (not to be confused with Mary washing Jesus' feet in a similar manner in John 12:1-10) in Luke 7:36-50, washing Jesus' feet with her hair and tears and pouring out the precious oil, displaying devoted and affectionate humility to one she loved deeply and sincerely.
It is a love story, pure and simple.
It is also a story of contrasts -- the self-righteous Pharisee vs. a sinful woman, formal hospitality vs. overflowing love, self-worth through righteous living vs. self-worth through forgiveness.
The woman inwardly, she is broken and bleeding. Her spirit is wounded. But the sinful woman has heard of Jesus. She has probably heard his teaching. She has heard his gracious words of God's love and forgiveness and healing and restoration. She has heard him speak of his Father's Kingdom in words so plain and compelling that she can see herself as a child of God once more, a full citizen in this Kingdom of Love. Yes, she is still broken, but now she can see light and hope beyond.
THIS is what the Spirit instills inside each and every one of us who live a Spirit-filled life.
"Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven - for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." Luke 7:47
The Spirit-filled person has realized the need to repent of ALL of their sins and because they have been forgiven much, the love much and delight in showing that love of God to others. They have a burden, given by the Spirit, to gather the Harvest, to find the lost, to minister to them out of love, out of compassion, out of concern for their eternity because God, through Jesus, has saved them from that same eternity apart from God in the tormenting fires of hell, and therefore, we want to lead others from that same fate. That is what the Spirit-filled individual does.
When we have more Spirit-filled individuals changing the churches for Glory of God, instead of for the praise of man, then they can truly change the world for the better because they are changing it for Christ and doing it in the manner and for the reason of the love shown by the sinful woman of Luke 7.
By the way, if you have never heard Jonathan Edwards' famous sermon – perhaps the most famous sermon ever given since the time of Jesus – you are missing out. Edwards was on FIRE and filled with a zeal and passion for saving souls. His burden given to him by the indwelled Spirit. That sermon, given by a Spirit-filled man, changed the lives of countless tens of thousands, who then went out and changed the world. You can read it here.
For more perspectives on this In Other Words quote, please visit our wonderful hostess this week, Tami @ The Next Step.