In the devotion that will follow A.W. Tozer hits the bull’s eye concerning the problem in the Church today. Currently there is quite a bit of discussion around the blogosphere about the topic of God-centered theology as opposed to man-centered theology. As usual in this “postmodern” age there is the difficulty of staying on the actual issue. Frankly, it is my considered opinion that this whole postmodern issue itself is simply a mask for people who have just not made the effort to sharpen their critical reasoning skills.

The main issue in this debate is really quite simple, and is evidenced by Jim Bublitz’ excellent post on Slice of Laodicea I Only Preach The Positives. Robert Schuller called for a “new reformation” in his infamous Self-Esteem: The New Reformation. Ah, the title alone ought to tip you off that we are leaving the faith here as sin is by definition mankind’s over-esteem of self. As in “I’ll do what I want to, when I want to and how I want to.”

And it is an incontrovertible fact that Schuller called for the Church to embrace a “man-centered theology.” Well, from years of working with kids I know that if you let them do what they want to do, why, they are so happy and they’ll think you’re just such a great person. However, all of that changes in a nanosecond if you begin to tell them there are rules they need to follow and then enforce them. Right now there will be those who ask: “What’s this got to do with theology?”

It really is quite simple: Men like Rick Warren (for self-centered set) and Rob Bell (for the younger of that set) and Joel Osteen (for the focused on greed set) have gone out to tell people that they can be Christian and God will accept them on their own terms. Well look at that, this is what it actually means to be centered on the self–or man-centered. No wonder people are flocking to churches because there is virtually no difference between the “church” and the world. Now allegedly we have “God” wanting to make sure we have a life driven by purpose as we save the trees and the water supply all the while living our best life right here, right now.

Creating God In Man’s Image

For who in the heavens can be compared to the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the Lord? God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be held in reverence by all those around Him. (Psalm 89:6,7)

Basing this devotion upon the above portion of God’s inerrant and infallible Word in the Bible, A.W. Tozer writes:

Christianity at any given time is strong or weak depending upon her concept of God. And I insist upon this and I have said it many times, that the basic trouble with the Church today is her unworthy conception of God. I talk with learned and godly people all over the country, and they’re all saying the same thing.

Unbelievers say, “Take your cowboy god and go home,” and we get angry and say, “They’re vile heathen.” No, they’re not vile heathen–or at least that’s not why they say that. They can’t respect our “cowboy god.” And since evangelicalism has gone overboard to “cowboy religion,” its conception of God is unworthy of Him. Our religion is little because our god is little. Our religion is weak because our god is weak. Our religion is ignoble because the god we serve is ignoble. We do not see God as He is….

A local church will only be as great as its conception of God. An individual Christian will be a success or a failure depending upon what he or she thinks of God. It is critically important that we have a knowledge of the Holy One, that we know what God is like. The Attributes of God, 41,42.

“O God, help me to capture once again a realization of the greatness of my God. May the God I represent in my ministry today be a God worthy of lavish worship. Amen.” (Tozer on Christian Leadership, July 18)

Sin Is Rebellion Against God

You must understand that the truth is mankind does not deserve anything from God but death for our rebellion against Him. No, that doesn’t sound pleasant, but spending an eternity in concious torment in a literal place Jesus Himself referred to as Hell sounds just a bit less pleasant, doesn’t it? One must come to God on the narrow road of following Christ, complete surrender, no questions asked, or go your own broad way of the esteem of self: “I want what I want and I want it now,” which path ends in Hell. Those are your choices. And I tell you in the Lord that anyone who tells you otherwise is lying to you.

But you say: “God wants me to have life and that more abundantly.” Who is saying He doesn’t? However, God’s idea of an “abundant” life for e.g. Jim Elliot and Nate Saint was for them to be murdered by the very people they were trying to reach for Christ. That was their driving purpose, this was how these “followers of Jesus” were missional in seeking the best life now that God could give them. Still want to be a Christian? Then consider the great Apostle Paul’s abundant life by his own testimony:

in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep;

In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. (2 Corinthians 12:23-28. KJV)

O and let’s look at the greatest abundant life ever lived, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Who is only God Himself in human flesh. The Father’s idea for His “abundant” life was for His only begotten Son to be crucified and punished for our sins. So away with all this seeker sensitive rubbish; this centered on self and man-pleasing psuedo-Christianity! Don’t listen to all this godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge (1 Timothy 6:20)

The Lord leads me today and so I come before you with a Word from God; and this is what the Lord says: “These things you have done and I kept silent; you thought I was altogether like you. But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face.” (Psalm 50:21) But now in all your great human wisdom you think that mankind is just too sophisticated for the “old-fashioned” and horribly “out-dated” preaching of the Cross and then letting God the Holy Spirit do His work so that the Lord alone receives the glory?

As it has been asked elsewhere: Are you wanting to come to the Master’s table for what is upon it? Or, rather are you coming to Him whether there is anything nice on His table for you or not; you just want the Master Himself? Friend, the choice before you is exactly the same:

“Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

The message of the true Church of Jesus Christ remains exactly the same:

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)

And the consequences of trying to come to God on your own terms is exactly the same as well:

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31)

Those of us indwelt by the Spirit and who belong to God through Christ will feel Him rejioce within us as His glory is proclaimed. But you say you’re a Christian and this message has made you angry? Then I suggest you follow the admonition in 2 Corinthians 13:5 – Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? –unless indeed you fail to meet the test! (ESV)

Let me leave you with this. As Dr. Walter Martin began his ministry an old Nazarene preacher gave him some advice he later shared with his own students:

Son, wherever you preach the Gospel always share the love of God, and the grace of God, in Jesus Christ. But, if they don’t want Jesus; then leave them with Moses.

Grace, or the Law. That is the ultimate choice. And you personally had best make it “soon.” As this apostasy continues to grow, and the Lord continues His weeding process, I ask you friend: “Which side are you going to stand on?” For the Master Himself has told you, “He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30) Today, while you still have the time, I strongly urge you to think hard about what Christ has just said, and to give it some very careful prayerful meditation.

Let he who has an ear hear what the Spirit says to the Church, and obey Him…to obey is better than sacrifice…