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God Chasers or Thrill Seekers?

Worship Spectacles Produce Spectators, Not Worshipers.

Jared Wilson quotes Skye Jethani’s book The Divine Commodity:

This philosophy of spiritual formation through the consumption of external experiences creates worship junkies — Christians who leap from one mountaintop to another, one spiritual high to another, in search of a glory that does not fade. In response, churches and Christian conferences are driven to create ever-grander experiences and more elaborate productions to satisfy expectations. Ironically, these worship spectacles, according to Sally Morgenthaler, are failing to produce real worshipers. She writes:

We are not producing worshippers in this country [USA]. Rather we are producing a generation of spectators, religious onlookers lacking, in many cases, any memory of a true encounter with God, deprived of both the tangible sense of God’s presence and the supernatural relationship their inmost spirits crave.

Ministries that focus on manufacturing spiritual experiences, despite their laudable intentions, may actually be retarding spiritual growth by making people experience-dependent.

Spurgeon on Revivalism

Adrian Warnock says: it is interesting in the context of today that some argue against emotionalism in preaching, while others try and by human effort create an atmosphere. Spurgeon would disagree with both approaches:

“Nor is it soul-winning, dear friends, merely to create excitement. Excitement will accompany every great movement. We might justly question whether the movement was earnest and powerful if it was quite as serene as a drawing-room Bible-reading. You cannot very well blast great rocks without the sound of explosions, nor fight a battle and keep everybody as quiet as a mouse. On a dry day, a carriage is not moving much along the road unless there is some noise and dust; friction and stir are the natural result of force in motion. So, when the Spirit of God is abroad, and men’s minds are stirred, there must and will be certain visible signs of the movement, although these must never be confounded with the movement itself. If people imagine that to make a dust is the object aimed at by the rolling of a carriage, they can take a broom, and very soon raise as much dust as fifty coaches; but they will be committing a nuisance rather than conferring a benefit. Excitement is as incidental as the dust, but it is not for one moment to be aimed at. When the woman swept her house, she did it to find her money, and not for the sake of raising a cloud.

Do not aim at sensation and “effect.” Flowing tears and streaming eyes, sobs and outcries, crowded after-meetings and all kinds of confusions may occur, and may be borne with as concomitants of genuine feeling; but pray do not plan their production.”
C. H. Spurgeon

Tozer on the Gifts of the Spirit

“For a generation certain evangelical teachers have told us that the gifts of the Spirit ceased at the death of the apostles or at the completion of the New Testament. This, of course, is a doctrine without a syllable of Biblical authority back of it. The result of this erroneous teaching is that spiritually gifted persons are ominously few among us. This frightening hour calls aloud for men with the gift of prophetic insight. Instead we have men who conduct surveys, polls and panel discussions. We need men with the gift of knowledge. In their place we have men with scholarship—nothing more. Thus, we may be preparing ourselves for the tragic hour when God may set us aside as so-called evangelicals and raise up another movement to keep New Testament Christianity alive in the earth.

The truth of the matter is that the Scriptures plainly imply the imperative of possessing the gifts of the Spirit. But I must also add a word of caution. The various spiritual gifts are not equally valuable, as Paul so carefully explains. Certain brethren have magnified one gift out of seventeen out of all proportion. Among these brethren there have been and are many godly souls, but the general moral results of this teaching have nevertheless not been good. In practice it has resulted in much shameless exhibitionism, a tendency to depend upon experiences instead of upon Christ and often a lack of ability to distinguish the works of the flesh from the operations of the Spirit. Those who deny that the gifts are for us today and those who insist upon making a hobby of one gift are both wrong, and we are all suffering the consequences of their error.”
-A.W. Tozer

(HT: Reformed Voices)

Test Revival with Doctrine

John Piper posts on Lee Grady’s excellent article in Charisma Magazine. I recommend you read the whole piece linked below.

Lee Grady

Lee Grady

Piper: Lee Grady, the editor of Charisma, one of the main charismatic magazines, has written a lament and critique of the Lakeland “revival” which is now in a tailspin over the leader’s announced separation from his wife. Grady’s summons to pray for the church and our nation is right, and among his commendable questions and observations are these:

  • “Many of us would rather watch a noisy demonstration of miracles, signs and wonders than have a quiet Bible study. Yet we are faced today with the sad reality that our untempered zeal is a sign of immaturity. Our adolescent craving for the wild and crazy makes us do stupid things. It’s way past time for us to grow up.”
  • “True revival will be accompanied by brokenness, humility, reverence and repentance—not the arrogance, showmanship and empty hype that often was on display in Lakeland.”
  • “A prominent Pentecostal evangelist called me this week after Bentley’s news hit the fan. He said to me: “I’m now convinced that a large segment of the charismatic church will follow the anti-Christ when he shows up because they have no discernment.” Ouch. Hopefully we’ll learn our lesson this time and apply the necessary caution when an imposter shows up.”

Charismatics will not be the only ones who follow the Antichrist when he rises. So will the mass of those who today in thousands of evangelical churches belittle the truth of biblical doctrine as God’s agent to set us free (John 8:32).

Discernment is not created in God’s people by brokenness, humility, reverence, and repentance. It is created by biblical truth and the application of truth by the power of the Holy Spirit to our hearts and minds. When that happens, then the brokenness, humility, reverence, and repentance will have the strong fiber of the full counsel of God in them. They will be profoundly Christian and not merely religious and emotional and psychological.

The common denominator of those who follow the Antichrist will not be “charismatic” it will be, as Paul says, “they refused to love the truth.”

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

Our test for every Lakeland that comes along should first be doctrinal and expositional. Is this awakening carried along by a “love for the truth” and a passion to hear the whole counsel of God proclaimed?

Revivalism!

“It is an offense to our rational, truth revealing God; it is an offense to the true work of His Son; it is an offense to the true work of the Holy Spirit to use the names of God, or of Christ, or of the Holy Spirit in any mindless emotional orgy marked by irrational, sensual, and fleshly behavior produced by altered states of consciousness, peer pressure, heightened expectation or suggestibility. That is socio-psycho manipulation and mesmerizm and it is a prostitution of the glorious revelation of God taught clearly and powerfully to an eager, attentive, and controlled mind. What feeds sensual desires, pragmatically or ecstatically, cannot honor God. You have to preach the truth to the mind.”
-John MacArthur
From the 1998 Grace to You message from 2 Timothy 3:1-4:4 “God’s Word in Today’s Church: Five Reasons I Teach the Bible”

(HT: Reformed Voices)

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