Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves. I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:10-12)

Evangelical Self-Sufficiency

The main reason that the Church of Jesus Christ is so impotent today is deeply rooted in a tragic decision on the part of evangelicalism, almost from its very inception, to follow the dubious pattern of the Church of Laodicea in Revelation 3. Somehow it was decided that in place of Spirit-directed witness it would instead be American business ingenuity for the advance of its evangelical “gospel” until once again the Christian Church came to the conclusion that we had a better way to “win” people to Christ than the Father’s glorious plan of the Cross. It’s a sad story often repeated in the history of the Christian Church. So as a result of evangelical leaders ignoring the warnings of God’s watchmen the Holy Spirit brooded until finally He withdrew and yet once more Jesus found Himself on the outside looking in (see–Revelation 3:20).

In this series I seek to offer the only solution there is to rectify this sad situation; a wholesale turning from our self-sufficiency (really no sufficiency at all), and a re-examination of the texts of the Gospels as to just what is our mission, and how are we to accomplish it. And this is offered with the prayer that we might once again come emerging with the spiritual side of Christianity. Our key to recovery is actually contained within the above text where God the Son informs us that it is – the Father, living in Me, Who is doing His work. And elsewhere in the Bible, Psalm 60:11 to be exact, we are informed – the help of man is worthless. Oh, and this is later repeated in verbatim in Psalm 108:12. Why it’s almost as if God is trying to get a point across to some thickheaded sheep.

You know, even in John 5:30–while speaking from His humanity–the Master Himself tells us plainly – By Myself I can do nothing. Another time we’ll return as to why this was, but for now I think we’re on solid ground to say that if “God the only begotten” could do nothing on His Own, then neither can you or I. The truth is Jesus meant exactly what He would later tell us – “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing(John 15:4-5). To “win” people to Christ, which is what the Master means by bear fruit, one must first be in Christ, and then he must remain in Him.

Remain In Christ

Beloved, we must approach our mission for our Lord in Christ because apart from Him–in our flesh–we can do nothing. This all has to do with the reason why we see so little evidence in our generation of real conversions that last. There are far too many people claiming to be Christian who aren’t truly in Christ themselves, and unfortunately, it would also appear that so many who are in Christ do not “remain” in Him. Instead they follow new evangelical sinner sensitive church growth “how to” teachings and choose to go about attempting to do a supernatural job in natural strength. Yet this will always have a spiritually putrefying result, which can readily be seen by the lack of true converts to the Christian faith today, as well as by the alarming proliferation of–not to mention tolerance for–false doctrine. With disastrous results the evangelical community in independent and self-sufficient America has been quite content to recreate the Church of Laodicea even though our Lord clearly says – “apart from Me you can do nothing.”

Can’t you just hear these spiritually obtuse leaders patting each other on the back as they discuss their latest schemes to grow their churches? More importantly however, it becomes evident that the Lord Himself has heard them – “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked” (Revelation 3:17). Instead Mr. new evangelical pastor you would be wise to remember that God’s Word also says – To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the LORD comes the reply of the tongue (Proverbs 16:1). And this is what the Lord says:

“I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” (Revelation 3:18-19, KJV)

The good news is that it’s not too late; but the only way out of this spiritual malaise is to get back to a biblical perspective of the mission for the Church that Christ Jesus of Nazareth founded, and to return to being His ambassadors the way He instructed us to. One of the best ways to do this is to remember that the Master said – “the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10, KJV) And then after His resurrection from the dead Christ Jesus would tell His infant Church in John 20:21 – “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Herein would be a synopsis of the mission of the Christian Church. However, we have also seen above where the evangelical community made their critical mistake in attempting to carry out this mandate in their own power despite the admonition from the Master that – “apart from Me you can do nothing.”

You see, because there are so many professing Christians who are thinking as men think they tend to look at Christ’s statements – “unless you remain in Me” and “If a man remains in Me” only from a position of how this affects the doctrine of the eternal security of a believer. Because this is not the focus of this series, let me just point out that “remaining” in Christ also has to do with whether or not we are going to “remain” in our Lord’s methods for approaching the mission our Risen Savior has given to His Church. In other words, are we going to go out into this world and accomplish the will of our Master in the same way Jesus accomplished the will of His Father, now our Father because of His obedience? This is the mark I aim for: I am calling the Church back “in” to Christ’s mission for us, but this time let us approach it His way. And I pray we will then “remain” in Christ Jesus during this critical hour in His-story.

Let’s Actually Do What Jesus Did

“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing,” our Lord says in our opening text. Most of us will still remember the “What Would Jesus Do” craze that swept through the Church a few years back. Well, this is the right idea. And it also gets us back to the question: What is the mission that He gave His Body to accomplish? Which then leads into a second equally important question: Just how are we to accomplish this work? Lord willing, I pray that as this work moves along I am going to be touching on the second question as well so that we might truly be able to come emerging with the spiritual side of Christianity. For our purposes here though as the new evangelical Ecumenical Church Of Deceit (EDoC) continues to gain ground I wish to focus our attention once again on what it is we should be doing.

So I bring us back to something I mentioned a moment ago about the Church and her mission. You may recall that in Part One of this series I quoted John 20:21-23 – Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” Let me remind you that in this passage of God’s Word we are seeing the birth of the ancient Christian Church, and therein we also note the primary mission that Christ Jesus gave her. Obviously we are to follow the Example of our Lord as He tells us – “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10, ESV)

However, before we can really focus on all of that, first we must address a critical point about mankind that the Master is making here that has been lost by the ECoD as it speeds its way toward universalism. You need to understand that this is exactly where all the spiritually spineless will inevitably end up. So here is the vital teaching that is obscured in seeker sensitive new evangelicalism: If Christ Jesus came to seek and save what was lost, then there must be such a thing as those who are lost. And if you don’t really believe that these people are lost, then why in the world would you even bother to call yourself “a follower of Jesus”? Because the Master tells you in unmistakable terms that there are men and women who are lost. And then building upon step one of our mission as Christians our Lord tells us plainly – “As the Father has sent Me, I am sending you.” Christ Jesus came to seek and to save what was lost, and in turn He has sent us to seek and to save what was lost. So there is our mission plain and simple.

A Lying Spirit Sent By God

However, what has been happening through the infestation of contemplative spirituality into the American Christian Church–spreading as quickly as a computer virus corrupting the teachings within new evangelicalism–is that it is filling the ECoD and her apostate Mother in Rome with a false sense about God’s love for mankind. I tell you in the Lord this is not all that will happen due to their dabbling in transcendental meditation; for those who continue in this practice will also eventually come to believe in panentheism. Remember, as we move along, the main idea in this work is going be to try and focus attention back onto the spiritual side of Christianity. O sure what I tell you sounds quite far fetched to our natural ears. You may say: “These people are by and large Bible-believing Christians, they aren’t going to be misled.” Ah, but this is precisely my point. A person who makes a statement such as this is thinking strictly in the flesh.

And the Church must reemerge with a more spiritual emphasis, a renewal if you will, because real power from the Holy Spirit is going to be critical as Satan’s new spirituality takes further root. Of course I am well aware that indeed it would be most rare for someone to wake up one day and simply decide to become a false prophet. Are we really to believe that Brian McLaren, who is doing so much to cause people to doubt the veracity of God’s Word, actually made a conscious decision to be among the deceivers? When Rick Warren fell for the man-centered idea that if you want to reach unbelievers then you make your church into a place they will feel at ease, do you really think he meant to slam the door of God’s Kingdom shut in so many faces? How about when ol’ smilin’ Joel Osteen preaches his exact same message week after week that God has a wonderful plan of success for your life, do you think that he actually understands this lie would never be empowered by our Lord? I would say of course not.

However, we need to come to realize that what has been almost completely lost today is the absolute holiness and sovereignty of the LORD God Almighty of the Bible. What has been substituted in His place is our new evangelical “mush god” who has about as much power as Baal in the Old Testament. Do you remember Elijah on Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18:19-39? And herein we have uncovered the root of the problem concerning the horrid misunderstanding regarding Who Yahweh Elohim–the one true and living God–truly is: In the flesh we have created a so-called “New Testament” church while virtually ignoring the Old Testament revelation concerning God’s nature. This is not to encourage some new law of “bondage,” nor is it to disparage the correct understanding of the New Covenant with our Lord. Of course the Church by definition must be a New Testament organization.

However the Old Testament presents a very clear picture of a sovereign God [Who] is in Heaven; [and] He does whatever pleases Him (Psalm 115:3). As a matter of fact His absolute sovereignty also extends over when the Creator decides someone will die:

And the LORD said, “Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?”“One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, “I will entice him.” “By what means?” the LORD asked. “I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,” he said. “You will succeed in enticing him,” said the LORD. “Go and do it.” So now the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you. (1 Kings 22:20-23)

And this touches upon the spiritual side of the Christian faith, which has all but been ignored in the Church of Jesus Christ today. It also cements my point re. someone believing they are not in danger of being led astray because of their superior reasoning ability. In fact, even as I had pointed out a couple of well known heretical sources that this so-called “Christian” mysticism is drawn from, a pastor who is deeply involved in contemplative spirituality recently told me that he is able to “pick and choose” the so-called truth contained within. But he really needs to look in fear at the passage above to see that if someone persists in practices that anger God until the sovereign Lord decides to hand you over to deception there is absolutely nothing you can ever do to reverse His decree. As this age comes to an end the wise man is going to make the time to very prayerfully read through 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 with the above text in mind.

What The Deity Of Christ Means

My point here is that the Church of Jesus Christ, which is to grow out of this New Testament must also be balanced by the true revelation of the LORD God of Israel in the Old Testament. Have we really forgotten what the Deity of Christ means? Then we had best recapture that the Bible most assuredly teaches that Christ Jesus of Nazareth is Yahweh Elohim come in human flesh. As such therefore, the Master changes absolutely nothing about the true nature of God or His attributes. Consider the following from Holy Scripture. Malachi 3:6 – “I the LORD [Yahweh or Jehovah] do not change.” Then there is this – The LORD is my shepherd…You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:1,4). But we are also told in Scripture – When disaster comes to a city, has not the LORD caused it? (Amos 3:6) We must never forget Who our Creator is, and we must remember that – He does whatever pleases Him with His universe (see also–Psalm 139:16; Acts 17:26; Ephesians 1:11).

Now let’s turn our attention to some eyewitness testimony regarding Christ Jesus from the Apostle John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. As a matter of fact these verses are just prior to our opening text in this missive. The Master is preparing His disciples for His impending death and then Jesus says – “You know the way to the place where I am going” (John 14:4). In verse 5 – Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Our Lord replies with the oft-quoted verse 6 – “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” But what I especially want to highlight for you begins in verse 7 as Jesus continues with His instruction – “If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

What is so crucial here pursuant to our discussion concerning the actual character of God is that the Father in their mind is the LORD God of Israel as revealed in the Old Testament. We must also keep in mind that as strict monotheists these men believed in only one God as they had yet to begin to understand the doctrine of the Holy Trinity that is taught in Holy Scripture. As the Lord now responds to Philip’s request our central point will come emerging:

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” (John 14:8-11)

Jesus Is Exactly Like The Father

As we close out this missive let me draw your attention directly to the Master’s response when His disciple Philip said – show us the Father. Notice that Jesus immediately says – “Don’t you know Me, Philip, even after I have been among you?” In our Lord’s cogent reply here He clearly equates Himself with the Father. This becomes even more obvious as Jesus continues – “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.” What I am doing for our purposes here as we attempt to come emerging with the spiritual side of Christianity is correcting the distorted view of Christ Jesus so common in the new evangelical ECoD. A patently false dichotomy has been erroneously erected that essentially pits Jesus against God the Father.

In my dealings with those “followers of Jesus” who have become so twisted up by the Emergent Church it’s very common to hear how they had trouble dealing with the concept of God as an old man with a beard sitting in judgment blah, blah, blah… We won’t wrestle with the serpent here, just suffice to say the idea they will then convey is that sweet loveable ol’ Jesus changes all of that. However, for those who have been granted eyes to see, we will know that neither of these caricatures is accurate. Oh, and by the way it is our sovereign Creator Who decides just who will see and who will not. You may ask: “C’mon now, how do you know that?” Easy, because He said so – Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? (Exodus 4:11, KJV)

As we continue next time we’ll start at the beginning of what the mission of the Church is supposed to be. I began by touching on some of this here to clear up some confusion about what God is actually like because our mission is inextricably tied to Who Jesus Christ of Nazareth Himself is and what He came to do. For it is only once we understand this that we can then move to His statement – “as the Father sent Me so I am sending you.” So next time we’ll go to the Bible and examine some of the things Jesus tells us when He says – “I have come.” We’ll also look at what to expect when the Master says – “Do not think that I have come to…” The only way we will ever be able to come emerging with the spiritual side of Christianity is to fully understand what Jesus Himself–the Author and Finisher of the Christian faith–tells us concerning how we are to approach His faith. And then can we move on and explore just how it is we are to carry out the most important mission in this world.