As mentioned last week: If we truly want to experience the power of God, we must surrender pivotal areas of our lives.
The final area of surrender is found in Matthew 16:24, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, if any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”
Unfortunately, many are not willing to give up all to gain all. This has paved the way for the American gospel…a gospel focused primarily on self, not sacrifice. Christ is the key to happiness and wealth. As a result, we know little about the surrendered life. We are having our ears tickled, but our lifestyles are not challenged. We turn from truth and lean toward relativism. We absorb what we want to hear and dismiss what we need to hear.
We’re not living in the year 1517, and this is not Wittenberg, Germany, but would be to God that another Martin Luther would nail a revised 95 Theses to the church doors again calling for prayer, humility, and repentance before God; turning us back to absolute truth and away from relativism—back to Christ and away from the broad road that leads to destruction.
We must repent, ask for forgiveness, and seek restoration. We should not apologize for preaching God’s Word, redefine what He meant, or back down from conflict. We are in the midst of a spiritual battle. We will be hated for following Christ, mocked for believing in truth, and challenged for promoting righteousness. We are called to deny ourselves, pick up our cross, and follow Him. The day of the passive, self-absorbed, complacent church is over. This is not a popular message, but it’s an important one. If being labeled narrow-minded, legalistic, judgmental, arrogant, and intolerant is the cost of speaking the truth in love, so be it.
As America, and in many cases, the church, fall deeper into self-reliance and further from reliance on God, our need for the surrendered life has never been greater. Change will only occur when there is a strong conviction of sin and sincere repentance—may God grant us the authority to proclaim these truths.
I’m concerned that terms such as sin, blood, repentance, truth, and judgment are being avoided under the disguise of “relating to the culture”? We are in desperate need of broken, humble leaders; leaders who are not afraid to admit that they need God; leaders who are more worried about prayer than about status and recognition; leaders who petition God rather than position themselves; leaders who plead not posture, contend not complain; leaders whose chief aim is to be a Lord-pleaser rather than pleasers of men.
It’s been said that one of the greatest mission fields in the world today is the United States. This is largely due to the fact that we embrace the American gospel, and not the true gospel–that we are sinners in need of a savior. Therefore, the time for spirit-filled preaching and authority in the pulpit has never been greater. We must lovingly preach truth again.
Wealth, health, and happiness are not the answers–repentance is. “You can be certain that at the forefront of every significant recovery from backsliding…the doctrine of repentance has been among the precious truths that God has quickened and used” (Richard Owen Roberts).
This Christmas, seriously consider who and what you choose to follow–the American gospel, or the true gospel. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. Hebrews 9:22 says that without the shedding of blood, there is no removal of sin. His blood was shed for our sins; we should be forever thankful. We cannot remove “Christ” from Christmas. He isn’t an option; He’s the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).