All That Can Be Shaken…

April tornado sign

Copyright 6/24/13 by Sarah G. Pemberton

“Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but the heavens.”  And this expression, “yet once more” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.  Therefore, since we receive a Kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer up to God an acceptable worship of service with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. ~ Heb. 12:26-29

This past week, my church had a conference, called, Back to the Future, with a focus of recovering powerful revival fires of the past, which had been lost, in order to carry us into the future, centered in our true destiny in Christ, not stuck in past mistakes.  So it seemed no coincidence that today, I read several articles online about the folding of an international ministry, with which my husband and I have been familiar for many years. (This ministry announced its closing the day before our Back to the Future conference began.)

This ministry is one in which we have seen much good over many years, even attending some of their conferences, but also in which we have often seen a mix of man-made methods that look good and biblical on the surface, but which sometimes miss the power of what it means to walk by the spirit. (Gal.5)  One friend of ours seems to think, based on the confusing (to me, at least) letters and videos put out by this ministry, that the new direction they are seeking will actually do exactly what I’ve been praying for them for years – that the Lord would teach them to discern between mere “good programs,” versus God-focused intimacy by which we flow in His supernatural power, which produces good fruit as a byproduct of that relationship with Him.  I hope my friend is right about the new direction this ministry is now planning to take (reforming as a new organization altogether, redefining itself and its goals).  Perhaps the problem with the public perception of this announcement is merely one of miscommunication and semantics.  I hope this ministry isn’t merely back-peddling and caving in to the culturally popular approach of “freedom from sin is good, but staying stuck in something difficult to overcome is OK, too.  God loves you anyway.”

But this leads to two major issues that warrant discussion in general for all of us:

[1]  The common evangelical misperception of some that the gospel is merely about forgiveness of sin.

[2]  The common evangelical misperception of others that overcoming sin is the primary goal of the gospel.

Now, most evangelicals are well-familiar with the idea of “saying the sinner’s prayer” and then being told, “Now you’re saved! You’ll go to heaven when you die!  Yay!”  But if that is our only understanding of the gospel, we are, as Paul said, “…of all men most to be pitied.”  (I Cor. 15:19)  He meant the opposite, as in those who denied the resurrection, but only seeing salvation for this lifetime.  But seeing heaven after we die is not the goal of the gospel, either.  It’s a small byproduct of living in Christ here on earth.  Likewise, being forgiven, just so we can get rid of our consciences telling us we are in sin is not the goal, either.  In fact, that is demonic.  (Rom. 4:18-6:23)  Saying, “I’m not perfect, I’m just forgiven” is a common heresy.  It shortchanges the transformational power of the real gospel, which is about dying to the old nature and being reborn with the DNA of Jesus Christ, Who only did what He saw the Father doing, and only said what He heard the Father saying.  (Jn. 7:16; 6:38-39; 5:30)

The purpose of this earthly life is to fall increasingly in love with Jesus, Who first fell in love with us by His vision of who He intended, created, and knew us to really be.  He is the Hero who rescued His Bride with His very Life.  That’s too high of a price to pay to keep jilting Him for someone or something else.  A girl doesn’t love the flowers, the candy, and the ring more than the suitor who brought His gifts to her.  If she does, He’s going to find someone who wants Him, not just His gifts.

The result of that intimate love is for us to be promoted “from glory to glory,” (II Cor. 3:18) like moving from kindergarten to first grade, all the way up to our Ph.D., in overcoming sin, as a result of being one with God in Christ Jesus’ death and resurrection.  It’s not because we’re such geniuses in ourselves that God promotes us in His Kingdom.  It’s because Christ in us is such a fabulous Teacher that He is giving us the wisdom we need to partner with Him in the rule of His Kingdom, as we meditate upon and worship only Him.

Salvation means putting our soul, spirit and body in the spiritual laundry of the Cross on the “soak cycle” of love and grace until all the impurities are removed.  That’s a life-long process, though there are many sub-victories along the way.  It’s not about hanging up the muddy shirt and saying, “That’s OK; I still like my favorite shirt, even though it stinks. You, know, I think I like that pattern that the mud makes on the front there…  Yeah, let’s call that creativity…”  It’s also not about saying, “It’s hopeless!  Nothing will clean this old shirt!  I’d better use it for a rag, or burn it.”

With deep, real, ongoing salvation, God gets all the glory (not any church program, ministry, or minister) because it is His will to save us, and because intimacy with Christ is His means for doing so.  That intimacy of worship and meditation upon the Lord Himself, by which we receive the Living Word of God – which is the Seed, the DNA of God – is that which becomes One with our seed of Faith (which also comes from God – Gen. 2:20-25; Eph. 2:8).  This Life of God is carried in the womb of Hope until it is mature enough to become evident in our lives to others and be revealed, as that which looks just like its Daddy.  That labor and delivery is by prayer, fasting, and whatever process is needed to not give up on God’s Promises for our lives, until we hold that living reality and love it.

So God is neither about compromise, nor condemnation; neither about making friends with sin, nor about attacking sinners; neither about redefining His commandments, nor about minimizing the power of grace.  Salvation is about falling in love, staying in love, and being transformed by His love into the full recovery of the image of God that was marred by once believing demonic lies about Him and about ourselves.  Then we will have the pure, true, holy love of God for others that does not get distorted by the demonic lies and wounds of sin (ours or the sins of others against us).

It is my prayer, not only regarding this unnamed ministry, but that I and all churches and ministries which profess Jesus Christ as Lord will be deeply shaken of everything which does not have the strength and character of Jesus Christ Himself and of the Spirit of the Living God.  (Isa. 11:1-5)  When God shakes, it is so that He may rebuild something stronger than ever in the place of anything lost in that earthquake.

IMG Valentine's Day 1994_0082

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