Archive for the ‘Modern Version of Christianity’ Category

Modern Version of Christianity 8

January 20, 2017

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?

Could it possibly be that the majority (if not vast majority) of professing churches are those that are “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”? Could it be true that what is thought to be Reformed in our day would not have been considered by Calvin and Luther as Reformed? Could it be that we have accepted the husks of Christianity today and have cast off the true fruit?

Again, Tozer was speaking to those who professed to believe the Bible and were even orthodox. Could it be that one can have a solid profession of the Bible, be orthodox, and yet not believe the heart of Christianity? Have the Pharisees in our day, though they speak against the Pharisees in the time of Jesus, have followed stringent rules (like tithing mint and cumin) and yet have broken and violated the greater laws of the heart? Could it be that we have ministers and college and seminary professors who are straining out gnats (being very precise in their morality and doctrine) and yet they are blind guides who swallow camels? Could it be that the most religious people in our day are those who look great on the outside but on the inside they value their salaries, the sales of their books and electronic materials, which make them guilty of self-indulgence?

It is far easier to be a critic of the scribes and Pharisees than it is not to be one. The scribes and the Pharisees were the religious elite of that day and they were the ones that held the respected positions of orthodoxy, wrote the books (scrolls), and blasted the non-orthodox. They were the ones that claimed the history of Judaism and had the scholars on their sides, yet despite their great learning and outwardly holy lives they were haters and enemies of the true and living God. They were precisely like whitewashed tombs which in their man-made religion and man-made rules and laws looked beautiful in the eyes of men and yet their hearts were like a tomb that was full of bones and uncleanness. These whitewashed men, who looked holy and highly educated and orthodox, yet they were full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. In their stringent ways of keeping the law they were in fact lawless.

The Pharisees were the moralists, the legalists, and the orthodox people of the time of Jesus. In the 1500’s Roman Catholicism had men who were moralists, legalists, and yet were thought to be orthodox. Both had history on their side and pointed to history and their agreement with it as the basis for why they were right. Jesus came and poked huge holes in the self-righteousness of the Pharisees. Luther came along and poked huge holes in the self-righteousness of Roman Catholicism. If history has repeated itself in our day, will we be swept along by all the external things and yet are vile in the eyes of God? Will we be content with anything less than the free-grace of God in Christ Jesus? Will we be content with orthodoxy? Will we be content with a version of history? Will we be content with our own self-righteousness? We must have Christ in our hearts in reality or we do not have Christ at all.

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Modern Version of Christianity 7

January 19, 2017

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.

Modern Version of Christianity 6

January 13, 2017

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?

The words of Tozer at the top of this page are sobering and accurate. They are perhaps more accurate in our day than in his own. Biblical Christianity appears to be virtually out of sight and out of mind. Various forms of legalism or libertinism seem to have swallowed up all that is pure and holy. While we know that the gates of hell will not prevail in reality, the appearance is a different thing. The modern version of Christianity or the modern presentation of Christianity is all smoke and mirrors. Those who claim to believe the Bible and to be conservative believers are as much opposed to the truth of God as anyone. As Stephen Charnock wrote so long ago regarding practical atheism, people deny certain truths of God in their daily lives. The theology and the practices of so many are a denial of the truth of God and of the cross of Christ.

The professing Christianity of today has several manifestations, but all are apart from Christ being the life of His people and His Church. The only true doctrine is a reflection of the truth and glory of the true God, it is not just an intellectual concept of Him. The only true “morality” is not a Judeo-Christian morality, it is true holiness in which Christ dwells in His people and manifests His glory through them. The only true Christianity is not a compilation of miracles and God giving riches to those who can work up a high enough frenzy, it is a group of people that He prunes and works on to make them branches that bear His fruit.

It has been a terrible thing to watch either in person or by reading about the things that people do in our modern day and still take the name of Christ. People seem to have more faith in their creeds than the grace of the living God. People have more faith in the sacraments than the grace of the living God. People have more faith in church membership than the grace of the living God. People have more faith in the practices that they have dreamed up than the grace of the living God. People have more faith in their historical practices than they have in the grace of the living God. People have more faith in their new theology and new interpretations than they do of the grace of the living God. People have more faith in their external religiosity than they do in seeking the face of the living God who can only be found by free-grace alone. People will do virtually anything in the realm of religion rather than seek God by grace alone. Grace leads to the destruction of self, all the things of religion leaves the self intact.

Modern Version of Christianity 5

January 9, 2017

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?

The world is getting worldlier and the professing Church is as well. There is little difference between the professing Church and the world in many ways. As Tozer saw it, those many years ago, the level of spirituality was low. But again, he was speaking of the orthodox camps and not just those who were in the grips of Modernism. Have things changed since then? Yes, they have, but they have changed for the worse. It is true that things change rather slowly from one day to the next, but in terms of what has happened since the days of Tozer there has been an enormous change. Christianity is moralistic on the one hand and heavily rationalistic on the other. Spirituality, however, is a different story. The things of the Spirit, and that has to do with spiritual insight and spiritual knowledge leading to holiness, is something that is hardly ever mentioned in a positive light.

We are satisfied with an intellectual knowledge of the Bible, an intellectual knowledge of Christ, and an external morality rather than to live by grace alone by the power of the Spirit. The Scriptures teach us very clearly that we are to die to self and our life is to be Christ Himself. We are not to live by our own reason even if it is knowledge of the information of the Bible and of a moral life. The Pharisees had vast amounts of knowledge about the Bible and lived a very moral life if judged by the externals. It does not appear that many people are seeking the face of God in our day. It does not appear that many people are living coram deo, that is, in the presence of God. Instead, professing Christianity has become nothing more (in many ways) than another way of self-help.

Self-help (professing) Christianity is much in vogue. Instead of being centered upon God and seeking His face to know Him and glorify Him by grace alone, man is now the center of his own attention and affections. Man wants to hear of a “gospel” (so-called) that enables him to be fulfilled and to make his life easier and better. God is really nothing more (in man’s conception) than a little help when you need and perhaps a cheerleader in the sky. Instead of man seeking God for higher levels of spiritual growth, man now seeks God to give man higher levels of worldliness. The so-called leaders in the professing Church seem to have bought into this and instead of denouncing it; they seem to be going along with it to some degree.

What used to be thought of as ridiculous is now accepted as orthodoxy. Now men seek self-esteem rather than Christ-esteem. As one Puritan writer put it, “the only self-esteem you have is that which you have stolen from Christ.” The self must be denied in order to truly seek Christ. There can be no seeking of self while one is seeking Christ with the whole heart. One cannot love self in the worldly sense if one is to love God with all of the being. One cannot love the world and God at the same time, but now it seems as if God not only gives people permission to seek and love the world, but it appears that all of the Christian practices are to be done in order to get God to give people worldly things. When the level of spirituality is low, the whole of Christianity is changed from seeking God to seeking the world. Orthodoxy is no longer used for godliness and spiritual growth; it is used for personal fulfillment. We have fallen to great lows in our day. Only God can deliver us from it and yet we will not seek Him for Himself, we only want Him to obtain worldly things and to keep us from hard things which deny us the world we love.

Modern Version of Christianity 4

January 8, 2017

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?

Tozer wrote stirring works in the 1940’s and 50’s and died in 1963. What he wrote about the entire evangelical world being unfavorable to healthy Christianity back then has not gotten any better, but perhaps is far, far worse. This is, of course, a stunning statement in terms of its breadth and width. It takes in denominations and churches and seemingly about everything that is termed “evangelical.” He goes on to say that he was not speaking of anyone but the Bible-believing crowd that bore the name of orthodoxy.

Here is something for people to take to heart and seriously consider. The orthodox crowd in the time of Jesus thought that they were the elect of God, that they had the true set of beliefs, and that they had true holiness. Could it be that evangelical Christianity (in name), while claiming to use the Bible (as the Pharisees did) have in fact used their orthodoxy to twist and turn what the Bible actually teaches? Could it be that some of modern versions of orthodoxy is not really what the Bible teaches? Could it be that we have so trusted in academics to give us history, theology, and the teaching on the Bible that we have been turned from the Scriptures themselves? Have we substituted what people say the Bible teaches for what the Bible teaches?

We know that Jesus said several times that “you have heard that it was said, but I say to you.” Let us rephrase that to this: “The orthodox saying is this, but I say to you.” Do we really look to the Scriptures or do we look to others to tell us what the Scriptures say? Do we prefer to have historians teach us that others have said about the Bible and so we believe that or do we seek the truth from the mouth of God Himself? Just because Martin Luther said it does not make something true. If Luther said something was true and it was true, I should not believe it because Luther said it, but because the Bible teaches it. Just because Calvin said something does not make that something true either. Just because Turretin, or Hodge, or anyone else said something does not make that something true. It is only true if it is truly what Christ by His Spirit taught and teaches in Scripture.

The idea that the history of the Church is the standard of truth continues to sneak in upon us. It is very important to study the history of the Church and the theologians of the past, but it is far more important for people to study Scripture. Calvin, while a brilliant and godly man, does not determine what Scripture teaches. It is also true that we can agree with Calvin about what the Scriptures teach and yet not believe the truth as from Christ. Healthy Christianity feeds upon Christ Himself rather than what the historians teach. Healthy Christianity is also more than what the Bible teaches. Christ Himself is our wisdom and we cannot obtain that kind of wisdom from the Bible. While this may sound heretical to some people, let us know that while the Bible is vitally important, Christ is the real teacher and Christ is our life. The humble soul bows before Christ Himself and reads and studies the Scriptures with Christ as his or her wisdom and Christ as his or her Teacher. The evangelical world still trusts in itself to teach itself the Scriptures.

Modern Version of Christianity 3

January 7, 2017

Many of us Christians have become extremely skillful to arranging our lives so as to admit the truth of Christianity without being embarrassed by its implications. We arrange things so that we can get on well enough without divine aid, while at the same time ostensibly seeking it. We boast in the Lord but watch carefully that we never get caught depending on Him. (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?

When we think of what it means to be a Christian, one part of what should be thought of is true holiness as opposed to various forms of false holiness. False forms of holiness will come from hearts that do not want to be different from the world, but in fact will come from those who are skillful to avoid being embarrassed by the implications of being a follower of Christ. The idea of being shamed or ashamed before others can be a mark of the true nature of our hearts. Would we rather be ashamed before God or before men? Will we choose to be shamed before men for true holiness or will we twist and turn our way to avoid being shamed in the slightest?

Matthew 10:32 “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 “But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. 34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 “For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; 36 and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. 37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
38 “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.

True holiness is to be set apart from all other things and to the purposes of God. We can have an outward form of holiness and yet have no clue about the nature of true holiness. We must confess Christ before men in the sense that we are to confess Christ in life and without our mouths. This does not mean that we are to be overly aggressive and be obnoxious, but we are not to change our paths and ways in order to keep from being shamed. We are to live before God and yet there should be a difference in how we live before men as well. We should speak differently, have different attitudes, and we should have different loves. There is a vast difference between living before God and living before men.

The modern versions of Christianity seem to want professing Christians to become as much like the world as they can in order to reach these people. The biblical version is for Christians to become as much like Christ as they can be grace alone in order that they may glorify God. The difference between these two attitudes or perspectives is huge. The modern version seems to avoid embarrassment before men at all costs and the biblical version is to please God at all costs. We try to figure out our lives in such ways as to avoid being embarrassed at all costs while in fact we are blind to the fact that we should be embarrassed before God. We may boast in the Lord when we are at church, but we would never say anything to those not at church that would indicate our chief love and the One we are supposed to fully depend on. Living before God means living in His presence and seeking His glory and pleasure whether men appreciate that or not.

Modern Version of Christianity 2

January 6, 2017

Many of us Christians have become extremely skillful to arranging our lives so as to admit the truth of Christianity without being embarrassed by its implications. We arrange things so that we can get on well enough without divine aid, while at the same time ostensibly seeking it. We boast in the Lord but watch carefully that we never get caught depending on Him. (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?

The words of Tozer seem to be right on point. Rather than wanting a stout and full Christianity where we have Christ and His wisdom at all points, we have watered it down to where we can have a form of it and still be comfortable in our lives and not bother other people. We will talk about certain things at times, but it is clear that we really live by our own wits and our holiness is self-derived though we will argue that it is from the Bible. We want a comfortable level of holiness and “commitment” to the Lord, but we don’t want enough to disturb our own comfort level, the way we spend time, and the way we live around others.

Look at the strong words of Jesus to the Pharisees. They were willing to tithe from their gardens (mint, dill, and cummin), but they were quite unconcerned about justice and mercy and faithfulness which were things that came from the heart and would disturb their religion and their pursuit of money. This points us to an important insight into the modern version of Christianity. Professing believers are willing to spend time on some Sundays, give some money, and keep some level of morality in order to keep the name of Christian. However, that is nothing more than what the Pharisees would do. They were unwilling to seek repentance of their foul and selfish hearts from God in order to be just in their dealings, to be merciful, and to be faithful to God and men. They were willing to do acts of righteousness before men in order to be seen by them (and be proud of themselves in their own eyes), but their hearts were still full of self and the seeking of self.

Pastors will go to great ends to build large edifices for their own honor, though assuredly that is not what they would admit to others. They will go to great lengths to get people to pray prayers and so add to the list of people that they can count as their converts. They will go to great lengths to others to tithe to pay for their large buildings, and perhaps tithe themselves, but that can be done without disturbing their selfish hearts. If these same pastors (in name) would be granted repentance and they began to seek true justice, mercy, and faithfulness, it is most likely the case that they would never get their large buildings built.

Oh how modern Christianity (pastors and others) can present themselves as clean cups and clean dishes, which is to say that the present a clean exterior, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. What is a pastor that wants to build huge buildings for his own name’s sake and urge people to faithfulness to God but a man who is full of self-indulgence while he is robbing the people in the name of God? What are men like that and what is the external version of Christianity that is so full of external cleanness while there is no new heart? These people are like whitewashed tombs as well. The outside is cleaned, washed, and painted white and pretty but all that it is covering is the bones of dead men (or dead hearts). These people are outwardly righteous but the reality of the matter is that they are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness in their hearts. God looks upon the heart and knows all the religious things that are going on regarding the appearance of things while that appearance hides wicked hearts. In this sense the modern version of professing Christianity is just like the version of Judaism that the Pharisees presented.

Modern Version of Christianity 1

January 5, 2017

Values which Christ has declared to be false are brought back into evangelical favor and promoted as the very life and substance of the Christian way. How eagerly do we seek the approval of this or that man of worldly reputation. How shamefully do we exploit the converted celebrity. 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?

When Christ took up human flesh on this planet and was the very tabernacle of God walking around, He was hated. He came and confronted the religious elite of that day and He was not timid or “nice” about how He did it. He called them “hypocrites” and “whitewashed tombs” and many other things that seemed to be intended to provoke them, though indeed in true kindness He may have been trying to open their eyes to their sin. The point is, however, that the one that proclaims truth is not to be swayed concerning the popularity of the issue. Christ pointed out sin many times by poking people in the eye rather than beating around the bush.

In the modern version of Christianity, however, we are too nice to speak against sin and too nice to speak with clarity and authority. The Lord Jesus did not value positive thinking so much as truth and love. The Lord Jesus did not think of being nice (in the modern sense) as a controlling power in His speaking. But also, He did not seek the favor of the political establishment either. He was there to love and glorify His Father by saving His people. When the rich young ruler came to Him, He did not bow to the man’s wealth or position, He spoke truth to the man. As the man turned to walk away, Jesus did not go after the man and water the message down. He did not plead with the man to come back or anything like that. He did not need that man’s money or influence, but instead He spoke the truth to the soul of that man.

The modern version of Christianity appears to be as oriented to celebrities and money as the world is. Instead of understanding and appreciating the Scriptures which teach us that truly the greatest among us is the one that is the most humble, it appears that the louder and more obnoxious a person is the more attention one gets and the bigger the sales of the books and CD’s and the like. It appears that people crave the unusual and the obnoxious rather than the humble. Of course people could say that Jesus was obnoxious, but that would be in a far different way. He did not use vulgar language and He did not speak with racy overtones, He simply spoke the truth. He did not focus on being outrageous, but in speaking the truth He was hated.

The Lord Jesus, who was perfectly humble and was love incarnate, was hated. For some reason we desire to be popular among the religious folks and among the world as well. It seems that we think that if we can be popular that we can gain a hearing and that this will influence people to make decisions and this will give us a greater influence in the world. We think that those with big names will come in and will give us greater influence and will gain more converts. We seek the wisdom of men of the world. But Christ did nothing like that at all. He sought the approval of His Father and no one else. The humble heard Him and they were glad. Broken sinners heard Him and were glad. Perhaps there are great lessons here for people to learn. The famous and the proud will oppose the truth that Jesus taught. Only the humble and the broken will listen. Will we repent of seeking to be celebrities and preach and teach against pride and hold up humility and brokenness and our own inability and weakness? God must turn hearts and make the proud into little children or people will not be converted.