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 why have we been failing for almost 1700 years?

Brethern,
please dont be disturbed by that title. In the last 1700 years, many many saints have done the Work of God, and i fully realize, Praise His Name, that Yahweh has been in control, that the Blood of Jesus cleanses all sin, that Dear Jesus Messiah, at this second is interceding for all of us in the Most Holy Prayer Ministry EVER....but..

we....and our forefathers, their forefathers in the Faith have failed miserably.

If you think i'm wrong, just get on your knees and read John 17:1-26

i say almost 1700 years, because it was in 315 AD that the child of the devil Constantine had a "dream"; 'paint red crosses on the shields of your army and you will be victorious in battle'...and he was.

satan couldnt beat the Early Church, that is the Body of Christ, so he decided to join it, which gives us to this very day the system of hellish slavery known as the "roman catholic church", complete with priestcraft, non-canonical man traditions, such as transubtantion, meaning that they believe that the 'wafer' they put into the mouths of deseperate souls is the actual, for real Body of Christ...rank idolatry, the wine they serve is the actual Blood of Christ......blashempy. they took the Cross and made a an 'image' of Jesus, and put it on the Cross, which is MOST definetly blasemphy! Their priests are commanded to be celibate, which is a twisted interpretation of Scripture, and as we see today that leads to hordes of closeted homesexuals, roosting in the ranks of this 'priesthood from hell' many of whom sexually predate on children, and Lord only knows about the celibate women servants they call nuns. Councils of these 'priests' get together and decide who are saints, and these "saints" are WORSHIPPED! Those dear souls enslaved in this system are actually encouraged to pray to these "saints"!....please dont tell me Jesus doesnt weep over this apostasy.

Let me not forget about that haunt of demons, the "vatican"....a whole city', and God only knows what stolen treasures of gold lay underneath its streets, in hidden vaults, the booty of war and theft, all controled by their 'leadership", and the man they call the "vicar" of Christ, enough has been said of him, all i know he has been prepared a place when the Day God deals with him.

Enough about "rome", as this post is not solely an anti-rome screed, because what is called the protestant "church" doesnt follow too far behind.

martin luther started great, ended bad. i say that, because i look today, and there is no such thing as a "protestant" Church, said Church being the Body of Christ.

oh no, there are hundreds of denominations, each with it's own absolutes. The result of man's fecklessness, and arrogance in TRYING to cut the Body of Christ into hundreds of pieces, ranging from mainline lukewarm backslidden denom's...shall i name them? Presbyterians, Episcoplians, United methodists, Evangelical Lutheran, mainline lutheran, and keep going down the line...baptists? many of whom seem stultfied to me, hard, and hard hearted, denying the Baptism of Holy Ghost some of them, while at the other end of the spectrum, you have pentecostals who have the audacity to proclaim that unless you speak in glossolalia, "tongues", you're not baptisted in the Holy Ghost. What about the "state" churches? there are many.....and now, in this age of circuitry and petroluem, lost sinners, have but to turn on a TV, and see the utterly corrupt, God defying circus we call "televangelists", all begging and pleading for MONEY?!? If i wasnt to know better, watching these greedy fleshlings, i would assume that "programming" was some sort of secular satire comedy program....and lest we not forget the hypercharismania that Brother Strom showed us the other day, the kundalini thing, the purvey of devils and every unlean spirit north of hell, the "holy" laughter, the "holy" drunkeness, or as one very confused purveryor of this spew calls it, "the heavy drunken glow-ray".

and like rome, dont think for a second, there is not clergy abuse within the ranks of the protestant "church".....the very TITLE "PASTOR"....what is that all about?!?

"pastor" means "sheperd", right?

Just think about it for a second. Scripturally, we have ONE SHEPERD and One Shepered only and His Name is Jesus.

its not "pastor" Bob, or "pastor" Tom, etc....how have we forgotten this?

Jesus paid with HIS BLOOD for this Title, and we give it to mere men?

have we ALL gone mad insane? How far can we stray from Holy Scripture? rome did the same thing when they conferred the title "pope", "vicar of Christ", which means "little Christ".

Is there NO fear of God?

hear me, i am a pitiful vessel myself, and by my written words, understand, i beg you, i am not trying to posit myself above anybody, put me at the bottom of the pile, because i wont have the best day at the Judgement Seat, but i have to testify. i HAVE to!

look at our very liturgy itself, its almost like "roman-lite".

go into a building, some of them very fancy, 10 to 11 on Sundays, same thing, over and over again. Stand up, sing a few songs, sit down, "pastor" makes a long prayer, out comes the collection plate, stand up, pray for the collection, sit down. Hear a lecture from "pastor", and he's been taught at seminary to make it "three points" and to try and keep it under 45 minutes, lest the people get bored. he makes an appeal for those who havent been saved, ALL HEADS BOWED, Heaven forbid we should SEE those who want Jesus to take over their souls, their hearts, minds, their very body and lives, "raise your hand if want to be saved".....okay lift your heads now, and you're released, and by the way, the altar is now open, IF you want to come up and pray....and out by 12, 12:30, so various "cliques" can whisper among themselves whether they are going to head to Denny's, or Applebee's...forget the lonely ones, or the weirdo's you dont want to eat with, and by 1 PM the doors are LOCKED.

"roman-lite"

But dont forget Wednesday Bible study, which is not really a study, its just an abbreviated form of the sunday service, only difference being, the attendance is a fifth of what it was sunday.

its all the "christianese" version of "wash, rinse, repeat"

and if you dont think the protestant church has its version of venerated "saints", just peruse this forum and see all the bandwidth wasted in the never ending tussle about Calvin, Finney, Arminian. i mean no offense to anybody, but when i see somebody write, "I'm a five point Calvinist", my head just droops. Droops further, whenh i see stuff like "I'm a pre-mil, post-trib dispensationalist, who hews to pre-destinationism".

(if that sounded off in my list, its because God has not led to me to indulge in such, and again i beg forgiveness if i offended anybody)

i know everybody here is a blessed soul, beautiful in His Eyes, and i praise God such a website is allowed to exist, where i have the freedom to testify what God has laid on my heart.

but something has gone terribly wrong over 1700 years, search your hearts.

If we REALLY want revival, we need to pray to God to smash all man made, devil crafted jails of division, contentionous, sectarianism, denominationalism, priestcraft, roman or protestant, ecclesiatical abuse, to pray for a New Pentecost, get low, get humble, die to self, die to our over active minds and self-will.....and let Jesus take over His Church, the Church of God.

because.... this is not working saints, i know it and you all know it....search your hearts...this is not working.

God the Father, and the Son Jesus Christ LONG for our souls, and for the souls that are far from Him. Jesus longs for us with a Passion, and said so, very clearly
in John 17:1-26

i've failed him, many times, and i repent, and beg for re-commissioning in His Name.

the question begs, are we of one accord?

neil

 2010/7/17 9:54
ginnyrose
Member



Joined: 2004/7/7
Posts: 7468
Mississippi

 Re: why have we been failing for almost 1700 years?

Neil,

You made a lot of interesting points, most of which I agree. (The one I disagree with is in the calling of a man a 'pastor'. These terms are gleaned from Paul's writings to Timothy.)

In any case, revival begins with me. I cannot impose it on another, much as I would like to. God has called us to faithfulness and obedience. Difficulties arise when we work to discredit the WORD and its meanings.

2 Timothy 1 shares interesting insights into the mindsets that work to subvert the Gospel. (I have the wonderful privilege to teach this lesson tomorrow to the adult sisters at church! Oh, and we do have a name....:-) )

Blessings


_________________
Sandra Miller

 2010/7/17 10:11Profile
sojourner7
Member



Joined: 2007/6/27
Posts: 1573
Omaha, NE

 Re: why have we been failing for almost 1700 years?

The call of the gospel is still
compelling. His grace is iresistable,
His love is undeniable, His promises
are timeless and true. If the Church
has lost its relevance for today; it
is because it has forgotten its place
and purpose--it serves as the Body
of Christ!!
The Church is to be full of peculiar
people; people with a hunger for the
truth, people who thirst for more of
GOD'S presence and power, people who
love righteousness more than life,
people with a zeal for good works!!
May GOD fill HIS Church, which is HIS
BODY, with HIS peculiar people!!


_________________
Martin G. Smith

 2010/7/17 10:17Profile
StevenL
Member



Joined: 2004/6/15
Posts: 40


 Re: why have we been failing for almost 1700 years?

I couldn't agree more Natan4. Especially about the man-made abominable "office" held by people titled with holy names like pastor, reverend, bishop, father, my lord, eminence, his holiness, or even "brother"..... you know, the Clergy. They EXPECT to be addressed in this manner by the Laity. Been there, seen that, won't do it.

To be a good "christian" today, You have to go to some phony, religious re-creation of a "temple" ruled by a "priest" "pastor", pay your "tithes" on a "sabbath". And if you refuse to participate in this modern version of the ancient Hebrew theocracy, well, you may as well be the devil himself. You will certainly chew your tongue for eternity in the very Fires of Hell. To even present such an idea, that the church is a miserable, ineffective failure, is to brand yourself a rebel, a heretic, a dog.... yes you are demon-possessed. The keepers of the phony temple (the pastors) will make sure that you are identified as such to prevent any sheep from being fouled with your blasphemous message. With the anointing of God heavy upon them, they will escort you to the faggots for burning as the sheep watch in holy terror.

There are hearts stirring with such sentiment even now as they read your thread. Minds already churning with rebuttals...looking for your errors. "Yes Natan4, some of what you say is almost right, but.." The defender of God's "church" is righteously indignant. "Something WRONG? How dare you! God can do no wrong and WE, the church, are God's handiwork. Why, we follow the Holy Bible, you know, the REAL version of it!"

Yes, the "church" idea that is presented to us as if it were the holy, scripturally-based, body into which we MUST be baptized or be doomed, is a gigantic failure and a hoax. Everything that adam's children have ever done has failed. The "church" has failed and will continue to fail.

But, this won't affect the Called-Out Body for Whom the God Savior died. This Body will do exactly as planned. Most of the "church" won't ever know it.

As to the question: No, we (assuming your meant those who call themselves christians) are not of one accord. I think that's been pretty plain for at least 1,700 years. And it will NOT get any better in this age, small smatterings of "revival" notwithstanding. But there's another age coming.

God bless you Natan4 and strengthen you and preserve you from the adversary.


_________________
Steve Lindsey

 2010/7/17 11:43Profile
MaloyPreach
Member



Joined: 2010/7/16
Posts: 5
Shreveport, Louisiana,United States

 Re:

I agree with ginnyrose that the office of "Pastor" is scriptural; however, I do share the discontent that Natan4 and StevenL have concerning the current leadership situation in The Church. I am from a Classic Pentecostal background and I was in the Pentecostal Church before anyone ever heard of "prosperity" preaching. From the very beginning of the Pentecostal movement, Pentecostal preachers preached against worldliness and for being eternity-minded. I have had the misfortune to watch our churches be invaded by a new breed of preachers who are preaching a God-wants-you-to-have-it-all-NOW message. Along with that message, there is another teaching that is neccesary for them to teach in order to succeed in taking over and that is the "authority of the pastor." If you do not want to be exposed then you must teach that anyone who exposes you is in rebellion, and that is exactly what they are doing! We are in sad times in the Body of Christ. I believe we are gearing up for Revelation 17.


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Maloy Strickland

 2010/7/17 15:17Profile









 Re:

and God bless you too Steven...richly.

 2010/7/17 15:25









 Re:

Neil, my brother in the Lord. I could not agree more. We are a priesthood of believers. I thank the Lord that despite the abominations of what you write, we have had a remnant down through the centuries that kept the fires of holiness and shone the light of Christ into a dark world. These people would typically be hunted down by both sides, whether the Catholic church or the reformed church. I guess when you are hated for Christ's sake and those who call themselves by His name hunt you down and kill you, thinking they are doing the work of God, then you know that you are on the right, narrow path.

I thank the Lord that I sense in my spirit that a new dawn is rising, a new wineskin is coming. A wineskin fitting for a new wine of His presence. The glorious majesty of an almighty God will take hold of a people, will sweep them away in a mighty river of His presence and they will, with all thier hearts, seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, seek first to glorify Him in the beauty of His holiness. Seek only to lift and to glorify the name of Jesus, seek only to " know ," Him in the fullness of the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus.

I might slightly disagree with my sister Ginnyrose. Yes personal revival is very important and should always be before our face. We should constantly long after Him as the deer panteth for the waterbrooks. Yet, in a corportate setting, or a national setting, there have been men of God calling God's people back to Him since the OT. The time is ripe for leadership that God raises up to call the people back to the shekinah worship of the living God. In Nehamiah 8 we see Godly leadership in glorious action where Ezra and Nehamiah realize the worldliness of the people coming out of a long stay in Babylon. Calling an eight day celebration of the living God for those who recognized their state , which led to these very people repenting.

There is a crisis, a tragedy that has befallen the people of God. They have leanness in their souls, they are not " unto God, a sweet savor of Christ." Instead they have a stench of the world about them. God will raise up, is , as we speak, raising men, raising leaders who not only undesrtand our true state ( there are actually many men who do) but understands how God would have us deal with it.

God has to retake, or take, His rightful place in the hearts of His people. Many are so lost, so worldly,so far from the " presence of God," as to not even know what it is. There is at least a generation , right now, of people who have heard tale of such a presence, but never have tasted of it. God will be high and lifted up. God will come to a people who lift HIm up. God told us that is we draw near to Him then He would draw near to us. Yet, He is not our grandad, He is not santa clause, He is not a kindly old gentleman, He dwells in a place that we can boldly come before Him, but not with presumption. Yes we have the honor and priveledge to approach this throne of God, availed for us by Jesus Himslef. But, will you skip into the presence of a most Holy God? Will you??? No you will not. Is He your buddy or your pal? No, He is not. He is your Father and He rules and He reigns and the angels fall down and they cry out "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God almighty." Will you do any less? When you cry out "Abba Father," will you not fall down before your heavenly Father and just simply tremble before such awesomeness, an aweful place, meaing full of awe.

There is a time coming soon where the "temple will be restored," so to speak. God will be elevated amongst His people above the din of the world and beyond our circumstances. He, and He alone is our exceeding great reward." "This is eternal life, that you may know Him." He shall be known to a people who draw near to Him in the beauty of HIs holiness. In HIs presene we will know the height and the depth and the fullness of Him and we will be ruined for all of this world and we will never be the same, we will never be the same and then we will indeed be a sweet savor to our Lord and to our God.

As we come into this place of fullness before Him, then the persecution will increase upon God's people, in fact the enemy of your souls will do everything in His power to destroy such a people, such a fragrant army. Yet, what can he take from us, a people dead to ourselves and alive to Christ. He may be able to take everyhting from us, but he cannot take our freedom in Christ that was wrought for us at the bloody battle-field of Calvary. We will be a people who will have learned to be content in every situation, a people who know that no matter what comes at them, that they can do all things through Christ who strenghtens them. The worldy Christian believes this Scripture to be a majic phrase that allows them to pursue the desires of their own hearts, as they believe the" and all these things shall be added unto you," means that they will have material things, yet this is the song of the martyr.

The man or woman of God an walk through any fire , any furnace, any trial or tribulation and know that they can do all things in Him. Why do they "know,' this? Because they "know," Him and they have stood in His presence and cried "Holy." And they know that they can count all loss as mere rubbish because no matter who they are or what age they are that their lives are but a vapor and they will soon join a mighty throng around the throne from every tribe and every tongue and every nation and will cry out night and day "Holy ,Holy, Holy is our Lord God almight." A new song, a new song, sung as one by the priests of God for all eternity. And all of these light and momentary afflictions will be swalloped up in the glory of the unadulterated presence of the living God that is beyond what our minds can comprehend, for it is written......"Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. " ..........brother Frank

 2010/7/17 16:32
Friedrick
Member



Joined: 2004/8/19
Posts: 110
Nicaragua

 Re: why have we been failing for almost 1700 years?

Watchman Nee has some excelent writtings on these same points in a book titled, "God´s Plan and the Overcomers". He, in a terse and biblical way, outlines God´s plan in the failures of the church and God´s plan for the overcomers in these last days.

The book might not answer all the questions, but what we can glean from this brother will most likely help us.


_________________
Joshua

 2010/7/17 16:38Profile
knitefall
Member



Joined: 2010/3/2
Posts: 251


 Re:

All interesting points. But do not be discouraged! He said -HE- will build -HIS- Church. There are great things going on all over. God's arm is not short brethren! This is actually the "rock" Jesus was speaking of. That He is going to build His Church through speaking to people.

 2010/7/17 17:03Profile
Giggles
Member



Joined: 2009/12/12
Posts: 592


 Re: why have we been failing for almost 1700 years?

At the risk of sounding like one of those people who with one fell swoop totally ignore the points supporting your thesis and just give an all-encompassing, other-side-of-the-coin answer, I humbly submit to you dear brother Neil:

1. Compare the Church with Old Testament Israel. While a substantially large group of people were Israelites, not all of those people were God's chosen people.

Rom 9:6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel.

I believe the same to be true of the church. Not all who are of the church are God's people. If you let your mind entertain such a train of thought and see this shawdow/typology through to its logical conclusion, it can be seen that God was always greatly working in His people, even though the people at-large that claimed His name looked nothing like what they should have, had they truly been His.

2. It is also important to define what a winning church looks like. What does it look like when the church is succeeding or prospering? Do we have our own conception (glmamorized by high preaching and high points in history suchs as revivals) or a thoroughly grounded and biblical one?

3. I believe it is important, somewhat in regards to the last point and overall in general, to respect the unique distinctness of the original church. The first century, apostolic, church of Acts is the foundation for which we are built upon. They did certain things that have to be regarded as special: were literal witnesses to risen Lord Jesus, wrote scripture, walked in consistently miracle-performing lifestyles, faced extreme opposition daily, lived communally, preached a new message to a completely virgin world. They did all this and more in one context. Some of these things can't be re-done. Others do still happen. They had the time in history that was pregnant with them all: a sort of divine-orchestrated, anthropic greenhouse created specifically to birth a church foundation for all coming generations.

That crudely said, forgive my ignorance, I also believe that church put up with a lot of garbage just like today. The Church of Corinth? A bunch of charismaniac sin bags Paul had to continually preach the simple gospel message to. The Galatians? Spirit-quenching, borderline legallists. The Hebrews of Jerusalem? Salvation-negelecting, unbelieving, unmatured, back-turning, almost God-refusing people. Or how bout discrimination in Acts 6? And on top of that, all of them had false teachers sneaking in; all of them had people divided over doctrine; all of them had little sects of "I am of Apollos" or "I am of Paul." I'm probably not being fair, but the letters to these groups would seem they had deep struggles; they were largely human; and they had a few solid people trying to encourage them into the narrow way.

And that's just the New Testament era church. The following years are filled with heretical teachers and bitter, church-dividing arguments. Did Constantine do something desperatley fatal? I beleive so. I have often thought of that as a pivotal turning point in the Church, but that leads me to consider these previously mentioned points and hope in the last one:

4. Christ's promises:

Mat 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Eph 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

Christ will have and does have His Church. The true Church of Christ has always had expression throughout history. Without preaching a remnant theology, I will say that expression of God's true people, from Genesis to Jude, always seems small. Only in Revelation do we see that number of people that no man can number, once God has gathered together all of His saints throughout time.

Also, that there is a real, vital, holy, God-centered, Christ-exalting, Spirit-saturated Church is one of the reasons Jesus died..."that He might sanctify her...that He might present her in splendor." These aren't maybe's. He died so He could do this, and since that day 2000 years ago, that desired result has been accomplished and will continue to be accomplished.

6. If you are still patiently bearing with me brother, I risk breaking complete forum decency by posting a video that will most surely and wholly answer your grievances. Forgive my facetiousness, but I only exude it because I know how insensitive such a move can be. In any case, I am compelled to ask you to please consider the words of Mr. Washer in this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7CGCXFp5Bs

The heart of what he is saying is critical I believe to this discussion. God is committed to having a people, unified and whole. He had that in the Old Testament; He had that in the greatly imperfect Church of Acts; and He has had that to the present. Different practices, forms, and methodoligies perhaps have been better than others, and some may appeal to each of us more personally than others. This I believe can be factored into:

1. The original first point. Tares are with the wheat and so we have unregenerates running institutions.

2. The Bible doesn't lay extensive and specific groundwork for how a church is supposed to operate in meetings. Guidelines are there in some places and over-arching themes need to be respected, but it appears as though liberty in the specifics is left to each fellowship of believers.

3. We all have personalities with likes and dislikes. We will all be drawn to certain ministry philosophies more than others. This is something we either use to motivate us to find that specific place in the universal Body to which we belong and/or God uses to cultivate unconditional love, grace, mercy, selflessness, etc within us.

I do say brother I have shared many of these sentiments and have recently stumbled upon a B.B. Warfield article in which he unrepentantly puts the blame solely upon the person in our position. Please do read his words, while not all may be directly applicable to your heart right now, I believe there is wise counsel here for you. I humbly submit his words at-large to you in closing:

I wish to be perfectly explicit here, and very emphatic. No
man can withdraw himself from the stated religious services of the community of which he is a member, without serious injury to his personal religious life. It is not without significance that the apostolic writer couples together the exhortations, "to hold fast the confession of
our hope, that it waver not," and "to forsake not the assembling of ourselves together." When he commands us not to forsake "the assembling of ourselves together," he has in mind, as the term he employs shows, the stated, formal assemblages of the community, and means to lay upon the hearts and consciences of his readers their duty
to the church of which they are the supports, as well as their duty to themselves. And when he adds, "As the custom of some is," he means to put a lash into his command. We can see his lip curl as he says it. Who are these people, who are so vastly strong, so supremely holy, that they do not need the assistance of the common worship for
themselves; and who, being so strong and holy, will not give their assistance to the common worship?

Needful as common worship is, however, for men at large, the need of it for men at large is as nothing compared with its needfulness for a body of young men situated as you are. You are gathered together here for a religious purpose, in preparation for the highest religious service which can be performed by men—the guidance of others in the religious life; and shall you have everything else in
common except worship? You are gathered together here, separated from your homes and all that home means; from the churches in which you have been brought up, and all that church fellowship means; from all the powerful natural influences of social religion—and shall you
not yourselves form a religious community, with its own organic religious life and religious expression? I say it deliberately, that a body of young men, living apart in a community-life, as you are and must be living, cannot maintain a healthy, full, rich religious life individually, unless they are giving organic expression to their religious life as a community in frequent stated diets of common worship. Nothing can take the place of this common organic worship of the community as a community, at its stated seasons, and as a regular function of the corporate life of the community. Without it
you cease to be a religious community and lack that support and stay, that incitement and spur, that comes to the individual from the organic life of the community of which he forms a part.

In my own mind, I am quite clear that in an institution like this the whole body of students should come together, both morning and evening, every day, for common prayer; and should join twice on every Sabbath in formal worship. Without at least this much common worship I do not think the institution can preserve its character as a
distinctively religious institution—an institution whose institutional life is primarily a religious one. And I do not think that the individual students gathered here can, with less full expression of the organic religious life of the institution, preserve the high level of religious life
on which, as students of theology they ought to live. You will observe that I am not merely exhorting you "to go to church." "Going to church" is in any case good. But what I am exhorting you to do is go to your own church—to give your presence and active religious participation to every stated meeting for worship of the institution as
an institution. Thus you will do your part to give to the institution an organic religious life, and you will draw out from the organic religious life of the institution a support and inspiration for your own personal religious life which you can get nowhere else, and which you can
cannot afford to miss—if, that is, you have a care to your religious quickening and growth. To be an active member of a living religious body is the condition of healthy religious functioning.

I trust you will not tell me that the stated religious exercises of the Seminary are too numerous, or are wearying. That would only be to betray the low ebb of your own religious vitality. The feet of him whose heart is warm with religious feeling turn of themselves to the
sanctuary, and carry him with joyful steps to the house of prayer. I am told that there are some students who do not find themselves in a prayerful mood in the early hours of a winter morning; and are much too tired at the close of a hard day's work to pray, and therefore do not find it profitable to attend prayers in the late afternoon: who think the preaching at the regular service on Sabbath morning dull and uninteresting, and who do not find Christ at the Sabbath afternoon conference. Such things I seem to have heard before; and yours will be an exceptional pastorate, if you do not hear something very like them,
before you have been in a pastorate six months. Such things meet you every day on the street; they are the ordinary expression of the heart which is dulled or is dulling to the religious appeal. They are not hopeful symptoms among those whose life should be lived on the
religious heights. No doubt, those who minister to you in spiritual things should take them to heart. And you who are ministered to must take them to heart, too. And let me tell you straightout that the preaching you find dull will no more seem dull to you if you faithfully obey the Master's precept: "Take heed how ye hear"; that if you do not find Christ in the conference room it is because you do not take him there with you; that, if after an ordinary day's work you are too weary to unite with your fellows in closing the day with common prayer, it is because the impulse to prayer is weak in your heart. If there is no fire in the pulpit it falls to you to kindle it in the pews. No man can fail to meet with God in the sanctuary if he takes God there with him.

How easy it is to roll the blame of our cold hearts over upon the shoulders of our religious leaders! It is refreshing to observe how Luther, with his breezy good sense, dealt with complaints of lack of attractiveness in his evangelical preachers. He had not sent them out
to please people, he said, and their function was not to interest or to entertain; their function was to teach the saving truth of God, and, if they did that, it was frivolous for people in danger of perishing for want of the truth to object to the vessel in which it was offered to them. When the people of Torgau, for instance, wished to dismiss their pastors, because, they said, their voices were too weak to fill the churches, Luther simply responded, "That's an old song: better have some difficulty in hearing the gospel than no difficulty at all in hearing what is very far from the gospel." "People cannot have their ministers exactly as they wish," he declares again, "they should thank God for the pure word," and not demand St. Augustines and St. Ambroses to preach it to them. If a pastor pleases the Lord Jesus and is faithful to him,—there is none so great and mighty but he ought to be pleased with him, too. The point, you see, is that men who are hungry for the truth and get it ought not to be exigent as to the platter in which it is served to them. And they will not be.

But why should we appeal to Luther? Have we not the example of our Lord Jesus Christ? Are we better than he? Surely, if ever there was one who might justly plead that the common worship of the community had nothing to offer him it was the Lord Jesus Christ. But every Sabbath found him seated in his place among the worshipping people, and there was no act of stated worship which he felt himself entitled to discard. Even in his most exalted moods, and
after his most elevating experiences, he quietly took his place with the rest of God's people, sharing with them in the common worship of the community. Returning from that great baptismal scene, when the heavens themselves were rent to bear him witness that he was well pleasing to God; from the searching trials of the wilderness, and from
that first great tour in Galilee, prosecuted, as we are expressly told, "in the power of the Spirit"; he came back, as the record tells, "to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and"—so proceeds the amazing narrative—"he entered, as his custom was, into the synagogue, on the
Sabbath day." "As his custom was!" Jesus Christ made it his habitual practice to be found in his place on the Sabbath day at the stated place of worship to which he belonged. "It is a reminder," as Sir William Robertson Nicoll well insists, "of the truth which, in our fancied
spirituality, we are apt to forget—that the holiest personal life can scarcely afford to dispense with stated forms of devotion, and that the regular public worship of the church, for all its local imperfections and dullness, is a divine provision for sustaining the individual soul." "We cannot afford to be wiser than our Lord in this matter. If any one could have pled that his spiritual experience was so lofty that it did not require public worship, if any one might have felt that the consecration
and communion of his personal life exempted him from what ordinary mortals needed, it was Jesus. But he made no such plea. Sabbath by Sabbath even he was found in the place of worship, side by side with God's people, not for the mere sake of setting a good example, but for deeper reasons. Is it reasonable, then, that any of us should think we
can safely afford to dispense with the pious custom of regular participation with the common worship of our locality?" Is it necessary for me to exhort those who would fain be like Christ, to see to it that they are imitators of him in this?

[from THE RELIGIOUS LIFE OF THEOLOGICAL STUDENTS]


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Paul

 2010/7/17 21:27Profile





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