10 Reasons Why Many Christians Rarely Experience True Worship

10 Reasons Why Many Christians Rarely Experience True Worship

The ladies in our church are going on a women’s retreat in a couple of weeks and the theme of their study will include the abundant life found only in Christ and the idea of true worship.  And, as would happen, just today I discovered a blog post by Jeff Kinley that addressed some of the issues I have personally struggled with when it comes to true worship (as compared to the lame stuff we call worship today).

I pray this will be a blessing to you as you prepare this Sunday morning to worship our Sovereign God.


Read ‘Em and Weep

The following are 10 reasons many of us rarely experience true worship.   See if you can relate to a few of these.

1.   While most Christians struggle with the challenges of life, many live defeated lives, never achieving the “more than conquerors” victory that Scripture claims is the normal experience of those who have been redeemed.

2.   Many professing Christians simply stop growing after an initial burst of interest and enthusiasm.  Bibles gather dust and heart-fires start burning out.  As a result, the process of sanctification (becoming like Jesus) is often short-circuited, fueled by sin, Satan or self.  These people end up as spiritual children living in adult bodies.  Churches are FULL of these folks.

3.   Many have never taken the time to really understand salvation— studying what actually took place at the cross, contemplating their dark, sinful condition and future outside of Christ, and learning to regularly bath in the infinitely deep ocean of God’s grace and love.  Understanding how and why God saved you is the key to contentment and joy in life.

4.   Most Christians have little clue about how great their Lord is.  I mean, how could they?  They rarely, if ever, crack open the only Book God wrote to reveal Himself to them.  Ignorance of the mind-blowing truths in Scripture concerning who God is and how amazing His attributes are is a guaranteed one-way ticket to Bland Land.  Bank on this: true theology and doctrine is never, ever boring.  Rather, it infuses our hearts with awe and wonder, inspiring pure, explosive heart-worship.

5.   Face it.  We like comfort and often choose the path of least resistance when it comes to our faith.  Living for Jesus is hard, and few American believers have the lungs for the long, uphill race.  So we rest comfortably by the wayside, occasionally admiring those “Super Christians” who run by on their way to maturity.

6.   We refuse to exercise faith in the daily challenges of life, and almost never branch out and trust God for something truly supernatural, especially if it could cost us a bundle.  We treat sacrifice and suffering like tax season— with a sense of dread and avoidance.  Fear rules many of our life decisions, not faith.  Safety and security becomes our style, influencing everything from friends to finances.  And that makes Heaven yawn… and grieve.

7.   We love the idea that God is loving and compassionate, but fail to grow past those sentimental attributes.  Godly discernment, on the other hand, may lead us to actions that others may interpret as unloving.  So we continue enabling people in their immaturity and sin— and do it all in the name of love.  But in reality, hidden behind this “love” is simply a weak and impotent heart. Boring.

8.   We ignore the direct application of God’s Infinitely-Wise Word where it really matters— on the job, at home, in our marriage and in our parenting.  And we wonder why we’re so screwed up.  We trust in ourselves because having faith seems to be complicated and intangible.  We settle for “what works”— expediency, pragmatism and peace.  And when we do look for advice and counsel, it’s usually from someone just as messed up as we are.  Logical?

9.   The average American Christian checks into church 2x a month, way too little for it to ever have any real, life-changing impact on their lives.  Like working out 2x a month, there is never any real progress or growth.  Truthfully, there’s always a “good reason” to prioritize something else over gathering with your spiritual family – sleep, work, friends, fun, movies, sports on TV, etc.

10.  Honestly, we want a God who entertains and serves us.  We prefer that He act like we want Him to and at the time of our choosing.  And when He fails to deliver or meet our expectations, we lose interest and become bored with His “ways”.

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Do any of these resonate with you?  They do with me.  Ask our Lord to give you His “living water” and teach you to be the kind of worshipper He seeks.  And remember these wonderful words of Jesus to the Samaritan women He encountered at the well:

“But the hour is coming, and now is, when (who) the true worshipers will worship the Father (how) in spirit and truth; (why) for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.  God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must (what) worship in spirit and truth” – John 4:23-24.

Strive to become the worshiper the Father actively seeks to worship Him.  Because that, my dear friend, is the abundant life in Christ (John 10:10).  And begin that faith journey with Him today.

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You can find more about Jeff and his writings on his blog.  You can also read the rest of Jeff’s post here.  And rest assured, Jeff is one of the “good guys”.

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413:  The Importance of Baptism

413: The Importance of Baptism

Baptism has fallen out of favor in the church today.  Many people are confused about baptism. And since there seems to be such a wide diversity of opinion about what baptism means and how important it is, many in the church have relegated it to an archaic, antiquated ritual and not much more.  And that is a grave mistake.  Why?  Because baptism is your first act of obedience as a Christian.

Many in the church who call themselves Christians have not been baptized according to the New Testament baptism.  That may include some of you who are listening to this podcast.  But think, if we are unfaithful to the first command of obedience to our Lord who saved us, it makes it much easier to disobey His other commands.  Does this describe you?

The question we ask today is why don’t people get baptized?  And there are at least five reasons: ignorance, pride, indifference, rebellion, or because they are simply lost.  In this message we will look at each of these in detail.

Are you confused about baptism and why it seemed so important in New Testament times but not so much today?  If that describes you, then keep listening.

The following is a study on baptism.

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

Download this episode (right click and save)

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411:  We Will Not Be Equal in the Kingdom of God

411: We Will Not Be Equal in the Kingdom of God

We will not all be equal in heaven.  Now we’re not talking about salvation, but of rewards.  All of us are equal in regards to salvation because it is a gift given freely to those who believe.  In this, there is no question.  But what we do with our salvation is another matter.  And we will be rewarded for our faithfulness to Him in this life.  Consider the following:

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 – For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if anyone builds on this foundation with (1) gold, silver, precious stones, (2) wood, hay, straw, each one’s (personal) work will become clear; (how) for the Day will declare it, (how) because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s (personal) work, of what sort it is.  If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures (gold, silver, precious stones), he will receive a reward.  If anyone’s work is burned (wood, hay, straw), he will suffer loss (of reward); but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Charles Stanley also spoke of this in his book, Eternal Security.  He said, “Some believers will be entrusted with certain privileges; others will not.  Some will reign with Christ; others will not (2 Timothy 2:12).  Some will be rich in the kingdom of God; others will be poor (Luke 12:21, 33).  Some will be given true riches; others will not.  Some will be given heavenly treasures of their own; others will not.  Some will rule and reign with Christ; others will not.  Privilege in the kingdom of God is determined by one’s faithfulness in this life.  It is true that there will be equality in terms of our inclusion in the kingdom of God, but not in our rank and privilege.”

Does this sound troubling to you?  Maybe confusing?  If so, keep listening to learn more.

The following is a study on the Judgment Seat of Christ and the Marriage Ceremony of the Lamb.

To download the slides for this message, click – HERE

Download this episode (right click and save)

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Jude:  Why We Must Continue to Contend for the Faith

Jude: Why We Must Continue to Contend for the Faith


Why We Must Continue to Contend for the Faith

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation,
I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith
which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Jude 1:3

We are engaged in a bloody war.  It’s a war taken to us, laid on our doorsteps— a war we cannot afford to lose.  To the victor goes the heart and mind of the church.

In the past, Satan has attacked the church both outwardly and inwardly with mixed results.  In Acts, for example, the external attacks from the religious establishment were countered by the church speaking “the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).  And the internal attacks only led to “great fear came upon all the church” (Acts 5:11) and increased ministry to others (Acts 6:7).

In each of these, the church only grew stronger.


A Single Voice

In its early history, the church would meet in authoritative councils to define truth or orthodoxy and address heresy.  When a falsehood would arise that became popular among the people and threatened to lead them away from the truth of the gospel, church leaders from all over the world would gather to examine the heresy, compare it to Scripture, and issue a binding statement that would define Christian belief for the church at large.  These binding statements became known as creeds. Some of them, the Apostle’s Creed and the Nicene Creed for example, codified for us the doctrines we often take for granted.

But today it’s different.

There’s no authoritative voice for the church and little accountability.  With the internet, pretty much anything goes.  And with most Bible-believing Christians not believing the Bible, the spread of heresy and false doctrine is rampant.


Paganism 2.0

We have heresies today that are promoted by popular ex-pastors, such as Rob Bell, that deny God’s sovereignty in salvation, the reality of hell and the punishment for sin, the atonement of Christ, sanctification, and the sufficiency and inerrancy of Scripture.  This is repackaged paganism.  Or Paganism 2.0.

Then there’s the growing Prosperity Gospel and the Word of Faith Movement.  This heresy, at its core, claims that mere man has the power to bind our sovereign God by the words we speak and demand He does our bidding even if it’s against His will.  That’s witchcraft with a fresh veneer.  They “claim” and “agree” that God has to bless them with material or financial blessings and He, like their pet genie-in-a-bottle, must give what they demand.

“I mean, doesn’t everyone deserve health, wealth, and prosperity? Isn’t the purpose of our faith to reward us with money and long life and straight teeth?  Didn’t God secure for us, through the death of His Son, Your Best Life Now?”1

No. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

In Hebrews 11, we have what is known as the roll call of faith.  It lists great men and women of faith and how their faith was rewarded.  Look how the chapter closes.  This is not exactly what the prosperity preachers promise as a reward for faith.

Hebrews 11:37-38 – They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword.  They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— of whom the world was not worthy.  They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

Do we believe the saints listed in Hebrews— Moses, Joseph, David, Samuel, and the rest— were less spiritual than those in the church today?  They received anything but health, wealth, and prosperity as the supposed rewards of their faith.  Yet Scripture says they were “of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:37).  This is the type of heresy only an opulent, self-satisfied, and narcissistic church could invent.  And that’s what we are.


Once For All

But this is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.  And it’s certainly not the faith that was once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3).  Our faith (pístis), as defined by Hebrews, is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1).  It’s the “basis, the underpinning, the foundation of what we confidently expect; and the proof, the assurance of things we cannot see with our own eyes.”2

But in practical terms, faith means trust.  To have faith is to surrender to the Lordship of Christ (Rom. 10:9) and to give life allegiance to the kingdom of God (John 3:3).  And it’s the King of this kingdom that “has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Col. 1:13).  It’s the kingdom in which we live and the kingdom of which Christ preached (Mark 1:15).  And it’s faith, or trust, in this kingdom, and its King, that was “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).  Our faith is not open to interpretation or change.  It’s a finite, secure, immutable faith.


To Contend for the Faith

To contend or fight earnestly for the faith does not always take place between believers and the world.  More often than not, our striving for truth is against those who have infiltrated the church and seek to draw it away into perversion and heresy.  As politically correct, tolerant Westerners, we’ve opened the big tent and invited every form of sin and deviant teaching into the church.  And it’s only by their fruits, or lack thereof, that we can tell the difference between those who belong to Christ and those who don’t (Matt. 7:15-20).

So it’s our duty and calling to willfully contend for that faith given us at such a precious cost— the blood of our Savior and the blood of His saints.  And it’s our mandate to stand for truth, especially within the walls of the church.  Are you ready?  Are you able to discern the real from the counterfeit?  Do you know the difference between the “broad way that leads to destruction” and the “narrow” gate that “leads to life”? (Matt. 7:13-14).

You need to know.  That knowledge begins with a deep fervency for His Word (Ps. 1:2), a committed life of prayer (1 Thess. 5:17), and fully embracing all the Holy Spirit wants to show you (1 Cor. 2:9-12).

Will you join with me as we put on our spiritual armor and prepare to contend for the faith? (Eph. 6:13).  Will you take your stand with me, first within the walls of the church, and then against the gates of hell? (Matt. 16:18).  Will you choose to shine as “the light of the world”? (Matt. 5:14).  After all, our Lord said:

John 3:19-21 – “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

Be encouraged.  Christ has already defeated the enemy and overcome the world (John 16:33).  And we are secure — our “life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3).

It doesn’t get much better than that.

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Notes

1. Yes, this does refer to Joel Osteen’s bestselling book, Your Best Life Now!
2. Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (pp. 1163-1165). Chattanooga,
TN: AMG.

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Jude:  The Non-Negotiables of Salvation

Jude: The Non-Negotiables of Salvation


The Non-Negotiables of Salvation

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation,
I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith
which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Jude 1:3

Jude’s intention was to write about their common salvation— the salvation believers share together.  One of the definitions of the word common (koinós) means “belonging to several, of which several are partakers.”1  Jude’s letter was originally designed to talk about the salvation they shared and what it all means.

But something changed.  Now the Holy Spirit has moved Jude on to a related, yet new topic.  He finds it now necessary to encourage those who share this common salvation to learn how to contend or strive or fight earnestly for the faith on which their salvation was built.  It’s as if the object of their faith was under attack, which it was.  To “contend earnestly for the faith” implies it’s a single, finite faith. It’s a faith that isn’t fluid or breathing, or doesn’t change with the whims of each generation.  This is the faith “which was once for all (final) delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).

And the faith that undergirds their common salvation is what we call the gospel.


Look What We Done With the Gospel

If the faith, the gospel, is unchanging and finite, why do we see so many interpretations of the gospel within the Christian church?  At last count, it has been reported there were over 33,000 Christian denominations worldwide, which reeks of chaos.  No single entity now speaks authoritatively for the church at large.  If the world, for example, wants to know the Christian view on homosexuality, they can ask ten different pastors and get seven different answers.  But our faith, like prophecy, is not open to private interpretation (2 Peter 1:2).  It’s a faith that was delivered from Jesus Christ based on His rules and standards, and accountable only to Him.  We didn’t secure the way to salvation through consensus. He paid for it with His own blood.

What we’ve done to His church is splinter it into a million different fragments all separated by personal nuances that seem to work with our personalities.  If someone preaches holiness too much for our taste, they’re legalistic.  If someone is more licentious than we feel comfortable with, then they’re liberal.  We judge everything by ourselves, creating God in our image and according to our personal likes and dislikes.  Assuming, of course, that God feels like we feel and thinks like we think.  Which He doesn’t (Isa. 55:8-9).

Otherwise, how can you have one Bible and so many interpretations?  How can some churches teach homosexuality is not a sin and hold to the same Scriptures that clearly teach it is?  You have some churches teaching you can lose your salvation because your salvation is based on your obedience to Him.  And other churches teach one’s salvation is secure because it’s a sovereign act of God He determined “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4).  How can they both be right?

They’re not.

Jude was writing about their common salvation, something they shared together.  It’s not how they got saved, the when and where, but the basis of their salvation.  One person may have been saved in a one-on-one encounter with a Christian at a local Wal-Mart.  And another person may have received salvation by reading the Bible, alone, late one evening in their hotel room.  The way salvation takes place, or the means by which it takes place are as infinite and as varied as there are individual Christians.

But the basis, the faith of that salvation must be the same.  Are you saved by grace, through faith, plus works and obedience and faithfulness in tithing to your local church or by receiving the approved religious sacraments?  Or are you saved by grace, through faith, plus nothing?


Stuff On Which We Must Agree

For centuries, the church has tried to come up with an agreed upon set of non-negotiable, basic standards that must be believed before one can declare themselves a Christian.  We may disagree on modes of baptism, gifts of the Spirit, or Bible translations.  But the one thing the church can never disagree on is salvation.  How does someone come to faith in Jesus Christ?  What must they believe to be saved?

Let me close by listing for you a few of the agreed-upon, non-negotiables of salvation.  These are the common truths of our common salvation.  These truths must be understood, embraced, and fully believed for someone to have true salvation.

  • You must believe that Jesus is God.  Now, it may take some time to understand the doctrine of the Trinity, but this core belief undergirds all the rest. It’s a non-negotiable.
  • You must believe you are saved by grace and not on your own merits (Eph. 2:8-9).  Salvation is a gift paid for by the sacrifice of Jesus.  There is nothing more you can do except receive the gift of salvation on His terms, which is by faith.
  • You must believe salvation comes through Jesus alone.  He is the only way to God, not one of many ways (John 14:6).
  • You must believe Jesus died to pay the penalty for your sins.  That’s you. Your sins. It’s a personal, one-on-one sacrifice He made for you.
  • You must believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:14).  If not, everything else is pointless.
  • You must receive Him into your life as Lord (Rom. 10:9-10).  Not just savior, or friend, or something less than the sovereign God and Lord of all creation. Because that’s who He is.

This is our common salvation.  This is what we have in common with all those who we disagree with on subjects that divide rather than bring us together in unity as one.

So remember, when you come upon a believer who views baptism different than you do, focus on what you can agree on, your common salvation, and don’t sweat the small stuff.

After all, the final prayer of our Lord was for unity in His church (John 17:23).  So let that unity begin with you and me.

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Notes

1. Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (p. 872). Chattanooga, TN: AMG.

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Jude:  How Are We Sanctified and Preserved in Christ?

Jude: How Are We Sanctified and Preserved in Christ?

How are we Sanctified and Preserved in Christ?

Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ.
Jude 1:1

There are two key words we are going to look at today.  The first is sanctified and the second is preserved.  Let’s look at what they both mean before we go any further.


Sanctified

The word sanctified (hagiázō) means “to render holy, to separate from profane things and dedicate to God, to purify, consecrate, devote, or set apart from common to sacred use.”1  It’s the condition of a believer after regeneration takes place, after their salvation.  Some Bible translators replace sanctified with the word beloved, and that is unfortunate.  It would then read, “to those who are called, beloved in God the Father, and kept (preserved) for Jesus Christ” (NASB).  Although it is true, we are beloved in Him and by Him, the essence of what Jude is saying about his intended audience is that they have been set apart by God the Father for a holy and righteous purpose.  They have been, past tense, sanctified.  Their sanctification came by way of the Holy Spirit who now lives in them and their salvation is now “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:13).

Most of the modern Bible translations remove the word sanctified and replace it with beloved.  In essence, they make the verse more about us and what we receive from God and less about who we become by God.  That seems to be the way we go today, living in the land of self-indulgence and having our narcissistic attention focused solely on us.  But to be sanctified is to be changed into something that reflects the nature of our God.  And that nature is holiness.  It was the single attribute both Isaiah (Isa. 6:3) and John (Rev. 4:8) heard the angels proclaim when they were allowed to see the throne of God.

But we are not only changed; we are changed for a purpose.  We are “set aside for a holy purpose” in much the same way the Old Testament priests would take gold and silver utensils and remove them from everyday use and set them aside to be used exclusively in the temple of God.  There was a change in their purpose and their audience.  We are to be sanctified, like God, and reflect His glory and His holiness, just like His Son.  To change that into “beloved” is to lessen our responsibility and our calling.  Are we also loved and cherished in God the Father?  Yes, without question.  But we are also created for a purpose.  And that purpose is not for our self-gratification, but to be used by the One who gave us eternal life.  We are to be like the One who saved us.  Sanctified.  Set apart.  Holy, because He is holy (1 Pet. 1:15-16).

Note also that the person of the Godhead who came to reside in those sanctified by God the Father is the Holy Spirit.  Note His name, attribute, and description: Holy Spirit.  Not loving, or forgiving, or gracious Spirit (which He is also).  But Holy Spirit. His nature is holy.  And it’s this Holy Spirit that now lives in us to do His will through us, His bondslaves.  Again, are we beloved?  Absolutely.  But more so, we are called to a deeper purpose.  We are set apart for something much more important.  We have the privilege of allowing the Holy Spirit to manifest His life through us.


Preserved

The second word is preserved.  This word (tēréō) means to “keep an eye on, to take care of, to attend carefully, to guard like a warden watches over those prisoners under his care.”2  It implies watching closely, like a doting mother or a protective father does their young child.  It’s the same Greek word used in verse 21 where the believer is to “keep (tēréō) yourself in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”  The implication is to not only “watch” or “carefully guard” but to also remain secure through obedience.

This promise is reflected in the prayer of Jesus in John 17:12 where He prays: “While I was in the world, I kept (tēréō) them in Your name.”  And now, with Christ seated at the right hand of the Father (Eph. 1:20), He keeps us in Him through the Holy Spirit who now resides in each of us.


By the Father, in Jesus Christ

One last point that involves two small words, by and in.  The passage reads we are “sanctified by the Father” and “preserved in Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:1).  Sanctification is something done for us “by the Father” and our being kept or preserved is accomplished by our position “in Jesus Christ.”  Both are gifts and blessings from our God who loves us as His beloved.  Yet, one comes as a part of our salvation and the other is the promise because of our salvation.

We are sanctified and set apart by the sovereign act of the Father.  Our sanctification is what makes us a child of His.  It’s now part of our nature.  It’s in our DNA.  And we are guaranteed not to fall or lose our salvation, our sonship, because we are found in Christ.  We belong to Him and are “joint heirs” with Him (Rom. 8:17).  Plus, we are now seated “in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).  How?  Because we are “in” Christ.  Where He is, so are we.

And because of this— our being sanctified, beloved, and secure in Him, we can rejoice at the promise given to all who belong to Him:

Romans 8:38-39 – For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Rest and abide in this truth today.  You are truly loved by Him who “is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 1:24).

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1. Zodhiates, S. (2000). The complete word study dictionary: New Testament (pp. 69-70). Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers.
2. Ibid., 1380-1381.

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