The Quest for Big

I’ve been pondering the latest movement to the Christian scene a lot in the last several days. Read about it here. The newest movement really bothers me, as most movements do, because movements take away from God’s prescribed means of grace towards His church.

His means of grace toward the church are the preaching and reading of His word, the sacraments of baptism and communion, prayer, discipline and the taking of religious vows and oaths under God appointed leadership, men who meet the qualifications of elders and deacons. Anything beyond those means is man-made, especially the movements that we see from time-to-time.  The sad reality is that so many people fall for the lie that the means of grace are not enough. They believe God did not see what we needed and they lack trust in the means He has given us. Therefore we must take matters into our own hands because obviously, God was not doing enough through the means He gave us. It is this false sense of urgency that feeds the fervor found in the movements.

So few really trust God to reach all of His children with the gospel, that they create a movement to make up for the slack in God’s work. Of course, you know this is nonsense. God is sovereign, which means He will reach every single one of His elect in due course of time, using the normal means of grace He has given us to work with. We don’t need any new means of grace.

I think the founders of movements falter in two areas, besides a lack of trust in God’s word and means:

  • First, they fall for the lie that God intends to save all of humanity.
  • Secondly, they falter because they give into the lie that they are important and relevant to the Kingdom.

Far too many have come to believe that since God loved the world, He intends to save all in the world, and that this love is unconditional. This view is wrong because God’s love is not unconditional. His love for mankind is based on the righteousness of His Son, which is imputed only to those who believe in Christ for salvation. Otherwise God’s hatred and wrath still rests on each person. We also must understand that His love for the world, found in John 3:16, is not in regards to quantity, but quality. He so loves the world in this way. This means that He is not intending to reach all, but reach some, namely His elect, for salvation.

John 3:16 is a verse that is often abused because so many come to it imputing their understanding of love onto the verse instead of looking at it in light of the rest of Scripture, even the immediate context. Jesus says in John 3:5 that one must be born again in order to see the kingdom of heaven. The broad love depicted by so many, negates this need for the Spirit’s movement in the life of the lost. Yet, without the Spirit moving in us to make us born again, all lectures on God’s unconditional love will bring about nothing. This is why saying God love us unconditionally is wrong and actually unloving toward those who need the gospel. God only loves those who repent, believe and become born again, all of which is outside of our ability to do. We are at God’s mercy.

Another way to think of God’s love is like the love a man has for his wife. He loves her because of who she is. But what if she decided to love other men with the same love that she loves him? Her love toward her husband would become quickly diminished and no longer mean anything. In fact, if one loves others indiscriminately, they are usually referred to in less than glowing terms.

God’s love is not this type of love, where He loves the reprobates of the world the same as He loves the elect of the world. Both the elect and reprobates are sinners, but because of His choice of the elect, He provides their cleansing so that they are acceptable in His sight. This magnifies His love for the elect, because not all are given the love of God, only those whom He has chosen.

Most people cannot handle this reality. They are so caught up believing in a god who just loves everyone so much, that when it comes to the God of scripture, who hates the workers of iniquity (Psalm 5:5), they cannot handle it. Even Jesus has a disdain for those who do not believe. Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe (Jude 5).

Remember that Jesus and the Father are one in purpose and attributes. So for One of the persons of the godhead to hate the workers of iniquity, means that all three persons of the godhead hate the workers of iniquity. Remember that sin is an affront to God because all sin is against Him and His word. This is why the moral law is so vital to our understanding of the gospel. When we break any of the Ten Commandments, we sin against the God of all creation.

For example, when we break the Seventh Commandment, thou shall not commit adultery, we sin against the Holy God of Israel even if those committing the adultery, or fornication, or watching of pornography in 50 Shades of Grey, are all consenting together in their sin. The “consenting adults” argument is really quite stupid when you think about it. Of course the two involved in adultery are consenting adults. But that does not remove God’s condemnation to their sin because their sin is against Him.

This is why He hates the workers of iniquity. They are an affront to Him and His holiness. Paul writes in Romans 3 that we have all sinned and deserve condemnation. We all deserve eternal punishment. But God, who is rich in mercy, shows mercy to some, those who believe in Christ for salvation. The number of those who believe is determined by God’s election before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:3-14).

My second point is that the leaders of these movements think they are so relevant that the Kingdom will not be advanced without them. Before the defenders of the IF:Gathering start telling me that the women in charge (what is wrong with that statement?), are always pointing their followers back to the church, I know. I’ve read such statements already. But just look at the number of times Jenny Allen uses the pronoun “I” in her conception of this new and latest movement.

She says she is going to unleash women. What does that mean? How does one unleash another? The Bible speaks to the issue of being unleashed, but puts it this way: Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us. (Psalm 2:1-3).”

Not sure, but we might want to know more of what Allen & Co., are suggesting in their desire to unleash women. What are they unleashing them from and to? How are they doing this? Do they really have that power?

God really doesn’t need any of us for the advancement of the Kingdom. The Maker of rocks can easily raise up the stones on the road to proclaim His glory if He so chooses. Every pastor and elder needs to learn this lesson. I first learned it in seminary. I’m not necessary to the advancement of the Kingdom. God does allow me to serve Him, but it’s only by His grace.

And it is by God’s grace that the Kingdom advances. This is God’s work, not ours. I know the desire of so many is to be a part of something big, this is why movements keep coming again and again. But it is wrongly focused. God is not moving in man-made movements. He is moving in the church that He has ordained. We are a part of something that is really big, it is called the body of Christ and it runs all the way back to Abraham and involves far more people than we can imagine or count. Why can we not rest with God’s means to grow His body, instead of thinking we must add to His word and means to make something really big? If we are believers in Jesus Christ, we already are a part of something huge. But this is not of our making, it is of His making. We are to be happy recipients and pray that He continues to work to expand it.