Thursday, June 26, 2008

Zealous Zombies

…when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
(Matthew 23:15 – ESV)

Just because we are a Christian and think we have a right heart about something does not mean that we cannot be deceived. Zeal and sincere belief are not enough to guarantee our right standing before God. Think about radical Muslims today who are all too willing to become martyrs, are they going to paradise like they believe? Aren’t they sincere? What about Mormons, or Jehovah’s Witnesses? What about “good” people? Romans 10:2 talks of the Jews (we could put others in this category) and their “zeal for God, but not according to knowledge”.

A zeal for witnessing does not mean you automatically have correct doctrine. Our text bears on this point, graphically illustrating the truth that zeal in seeking converts does not prove that one’s beliefs are correct or that one is saved. “But I am a Christian”, you say. Well, what about the fact that some will unknowingly serve “another Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:4)? It is possible for sincere people, even people who are among the fellowship of true Christians, to be deceived into following “another Jesus”.

Repentance, not sacrifice, is what God wants; read Isaiah chapter 1. Reformation of character, not revival of charisma is the call of God. Too often we are equating spiritual revival with emotional displays, without seeing (permanently as opposed to temporarily) transformed lives. The fruit of the Spirit is the tell tale sign, not emotionalism, and not even gifts. Actually, the fruit of the Spirit often may involve a lack of personal passion (i.e. showing patience, self-control). Emotional feeling cannot be the measure of a deepening relationship with God; the Bible declares the measure to be the fruit. You can’t display all those in a one-hour service each week. These are things measured over time in the test tube of life, and manifest in the day-to-day walk, irrespective of any emotional component.

Emotion is to be expected, even invited, but it is not the measure of faith. We can be glad for those people who may be feeling a touch from God. You may have seen someone be “slain in the Spirit”, or “go down under the power”, or whatever, and people call this “revival”. Even if they mean it, or it is “real”, that is not the sum total of what revival is. It does them no good to fall down today if they fall away tomorrow. Revival is measured by the transformation of human lives and the transformation of the immediate culture as a result of those transformed lives.

In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul went to great lengths to contrast what was going on at Corinth with regard to spiritual gifts, etc., with how it should have been proceeding. In other words, Paul was reprimanding, if you will, the church at Corinth (and us today), explaining to them that spiritual experience without love is worthless. The gifts will eventually die off, but love will always remain. Love, then, is the virtue to be strived for. To seek after gifts without love and humility is to pervert God’s order. The signs and wonders were only a part of the package, and really, they were just the stamp and address. The inside of the package, Christ Himself, was the thing to be opened up and had, the thing (person) to be sought. It is what is inside the package that matters.

It seems that today, however, there is a need for signs and wonders to manifest or the witness is “weak”. What happened to the power of the Word? Even in apostolic times, signs and wonders were not always present, and many would argue that they were never the norm, even in the first century. If we concentrate on the need for signs, are we really putting things in proper order?

But for us to seek after these signs means that we are doing exactly that: seeking the sign from God and not God himself. It’s as if God was the sign itself, and indeed, we may make a god out of signs and wonders. Some meetings seem like a séance, a summoning or invoking of a spiritual presence, and when the feeling comes, whatever it is, it is called “God”.

You are forgiven; it is a lot to be emotional about. Seeking signs to affirm God’s presence only distorts this notion however; God is there, we guarantee you that. The signs only need be upon His sovereign will, not our ability to muster them up. The Holy Spirit comes as He wills, and we can want this to happen, but shouldn’t seek supernatural signs just for their own sake.

People are seemingly always talking about inviting, or getting into the presence of God, as if this is what the aim really is. Consider this: the Jews saw miracles, signs and wonders we can only dream about, and yet they turned to other gods. You can have all the passion in the world but still be dead spiritually. Many of the unregenerate masses practicing false religion attest to that fact.


Dan said...

Amen J.D. I think one of the reasons that people search for signs and wonders so much is because they are searching for God's approval and if they see "stuff" happening that it must be approved by God. It is that settling for minimum wage thing again. Instead of really searching the Word for God's approval we tend to jump on the back of something else that "must" be real.

Dan said...

Sorry I couldn't make it last night. Had to work late.

Even So... said...

Right on, Dan...btw, we watched the "video" finally, and you have already seen it, so no biggie, it went over well, really helped open some eyes...

I am an uncle again, Melody Grace was born Tuesday night 9:59 pm, 6 lbs.5 oz., 18 inches...

Dan said...