“I have been writing this volume while residing in Germany for a teaching trip. I am humbled by penning these 95 theses in the same country as Martin Luther did many years ago. I submit these to the evangelical church of our day and pray that God would allow anything of truth in these pages to bend and change men’s hearts back to God.” – Greg Gordon –
It is useless for large companies of believers to spend long hours begging God to send revival. Unless we intend to reform we may as well not pray. Unless praying men have the insight and faith to amend their whole way of life to conform to the New Testament pattern there can be no true revival. – A.W. Tozer
I am currently reviewing and commenting on 95 theses to the modern evangelical church “revised” by Greg Gordon. The following discusses church and God’s presence.
Run from churches where the worship leaves you cold, where there’s no sense of God’s presence.
1 Corinthians 5:4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus,
Psalm 80:14-15 Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine, the stock that your right hand planted, and for the son whom you made strong for yourself.
Jeremiah 12:11 They have made it a desolation; desolate, it mourns to me. The whole land is made desolate, but no man lays it to heart.
I struggle with this one. Generally, others would not describe me as a ‘touchy, feely’ guy. I find it much easier to figure out a gathering by its fruits and love rather than a sense of God’s presence in worship. Also, since I live in a state where many churches say “lead with your feelings,” I am especially wary of any advice that parallels that direction.
In my opinion, the evidence of the moving of God’s Spirit will be the fruit of that spirit, i.e. holiness, repentance, etc. After a worship service, do you see a true hunger in the group for God’s Word and a desire to give up all to follow Him? Do you see an unparallel love that surpasses all understanding? As someone said, “You cannot have a meeting with a train that hits you head on, and walk away unchanged.” A true moving of God’s Spirit must leave unmistakable evidence.
Run from churches where you’re comfortable in your sin.
1 Corinthians 14:25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.
Hebrews 10:30-31 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Hebrews 4:13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
As I just mentioned, any movement of God’s spirit includes a movement towards repentance and holiness. Any church where you can continue to remain comfy in your sin should scare you.
Large, modern churches, however, allow that to happen just in their structure. When the congregations exceed hundreds or thousands, you can go through dozens of services with no one saying much to you directly. Anyone can hide in a crowd of that size.
In a smaller gathering of a dozen or so, you cannot hide nearly as easily. People in the group will want to get to know you and your family better. The intimate grouping will naturally lead to conversations about each others, and hopefully about sin in your life. If you love God, you should embrace this approach despite that you may feel uncomfy at first. Dealing with sin and moving towards holiness brings you closer to God.
Run from churches that use the pulpit of God for a personal agenda.
Jude 10-11 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.
Jude 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.
3 John 9 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority.
The current church structure is so far removed from what the Bible paints a picture of! You will not find any mention of a pulpit, or a one-man leader type church…I could go on and on. Anyway, the idea of one man using a pulpit or leadership role for his personal agenda flies against all the Bible teaches.
Sermons should focus around God, pure and simple. Since most sermons take a verse or three and spend the rest of time expanding on that (often with personal stories and the such), any Christian may struggle to discern whether or not the pastor pushes his own agenda during such speeches.
I have witnesses pastors preaching theologies which seem very sound and Biblical, but push for division among God’s people, as well. Again, it can be challenging to discern where one begins and the other ends. Having a one man pastor/leader position/paradigm makes this even more tempting and challenging.
I would love to see such sermons more focused on God’s Word, and a lot less on personal story telling. I would love to see more focus on God, and a lot less focus on man.