Modern Version of Christianity 7

The whole evangelical world is to a large extent unfavorable to healthy Christianity. And I am not thinking of Modernism either. I mean rather the Bible-believing crowd that bears the name of orthodoxy. We may as well face it; the whole level of spirituality is low. We have measured ourselves by ourselves until the incentive to seek higher plateaus in the things of the Spirit is all but gone. Large and influential sections of the world of fundamental Christianity have gone overboard for practices wholly unscriptural, altogether unjustifiable in the light of historic Christian truth and deeply damaging to the inner life of the individual Christian. They have imitated the world, sought popular favor, manufactured delights to substitute for the joy of the Lord and produced a cheap and synthetic power to substitute for the power of the Holy Ghost. (A.W. Tozer)

Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. 24 “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! 25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. 26 “You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. 27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. 29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!… 32 “Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. 33 “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?

One of the most obvious things about the modern version of Christianity is the absence of the Spirit. While there may be a fair amount of teaching about the Spirit at times, that is a far different thing than having the presence of the Spirit. Even more, that is a far different thing than relying upon the Spirit to do His work and for us human beings to sink into nothingness before Him. After all, we are told that the reason it is by faith is in order that it may be by grace (Rom 4:16). This should bring many things to mind, but one is that faith is not a work of the self that brings something from God. Faith is not what we do, but instead it is what God does in us. True faith should seek the Spirit and His guidance and wisdom.

If we think of “spirituality” as the things that the Spirit does, we will have a fairly close idea to how Tozer is using the term. One can focus a lot on the work of the Spirit as can be seen in certain circles and yet the real issue is nothing but materialism and self-effort. While the work of the Spirit is given lip-service in certain circles while rationality and moralism is what drives things, in other circles the Spirit is focused on and yet His real work is ignored and perhaps unknown. The real work of the Spirit is to convict sinners of sin, or righteousness, and of judgment to come. The real work of the Spirit is to regenerate sinners and illumine the saints with light. It is the Spirit who opens eyes to the truth and shows the glory of it. It is the Spirit who alone can empower the weak and show the strong their weakness.

What has happened in our day is that we have turned to man-pleasing ways to get people in the doors of the buildings and to extract money from their wallets. If we have attracted people by our man-pleasing ways, then we must keep them by more of the same, but perhaps we have to do things in an ever increasing excitement level to keep them. Those who do not love the true Christ have to be entertained or their false religion encouraged by good works and perhaps orthodox teaching. As we think of what is going on in the professing churches today, what are people doing to attract people? What are people doing to keep people?

But of course the smug person or the smug professing church will say that they teach orthodoxy. So did the Pharisees. Orthodoxy can be taught to the natural man and the natural man will stick around an orthodox place because it pleases self. Let us not think that orthodox churches are not touched by these things, but instead they just use differing ways to get people in the door and then keep them. It is Christ Himself who must be held out and it is Christ Himself and His cross which must be preached. It is only the Spirit who can attract men to the crucified Savior and it is only the Spirit who can keep men attracted to the crucified Savior. While Christ-centeredness is a truth that we can never get away from, let us also remember that a professing church with all the truth in the world is still far from the kingdom apart from the work of the Holy Spirit.

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