By Jeff Ziegler
Published March 31, 2008
“Is there not a cause?” – 1 Samuel 17:28 KJV
The cause of God in church history has often ignited the same kind of Davidic passion within the elect to perform exploits against indolence, ignorance and iniquity. The words may be different, but the intent and spirit; the reformation zeal of David the warrior king, remains the same.
Indeed Martin Luther declared: “Here I stand,” and John Wesley: “Give me a place to stand … to shake the earth.” These men and many others in the church’s illustrious history are illustrative of the divine stuff of zeal so sorely needed in our generation. They were men with a cause, a mission from God.
David was once surrounded by an indifference to God’s purposes when his nation was challenged by Goliath, the giant from hell, who sought to shame God’s people and eclipse the testimony of God.
“And the Philistine said, ‘I defy the armies of Israel this day! Give me a man, that we may fight together.’ When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid” (1 Samuel 17:10,11).
David’s oldest brother, Eliab, dismayed and fearful, became angry not with the deity-mocking, godless giant, but with David who, in reformation zeal, eclipsed the carefree existence of Israel by arriving on the field of battle ready for mortal combat despite all of the natural circumstances arrayed against him.
“Then David spoke to the men who were standing by him, saying, ‘What will be done for the man who kills this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should taunt the armies of the living God?’ … And Eliab his oldest brother heard when he spoke to the men; and Eliab’s anger was kindled against David” (1 Samuel 17:26,28).
Eliab goes on to ridicule David as being prideful, irresponsible and full of mischief, to which David retorts with divine ire: “Is there not a cause?”
Complacency, lethargy and malaise concerning sacred or secular matters have long been universally loathed attributes of human behavior. Yet in today’s anemic evangelicalism such an attitude is not only being tolerated but is actually being nurtured and promulgated as a portrait of “balanced” Christianity. Introspection, stoicism and a marvelous indifference to Christian maturity suddenly are the means to a happy life free from responsibility, duties and demands. This kind of placid indifference is supposed to protect individual saints from “burnout” and to remove from our lives any call or cause which will demand sacrifice, pain or rigorous exertion.
“Happiness is a choice,” some would say. “So away with troublesome righteous causes and the biblical injunction of ‘going on to perfection.’ After all, happiness and contentment are the highest goals of life.”
This kind of sickening sentiment is a selfish, hellish philosophy which strips from the Church the depth of Christian character and reformation zeal needed to transform our society.
There are a number of reasons for the cause for the churches slide toward mediocrity in our day. Here are two of the top detrimental trends:
First, the greatest hindrance to a revived state in any believer is a short and truncated relationship with Christ our true vine of life in glory. There can be no vision nor vitality of life without an intimate, prayerful, powerful, reciprocal relationship with Jesus.
Amazingly, when saints are found “short of the glory of God” instead of drawing nigh to Christ using the means of grace of prayer, meditation upon the covenant forever, they look for the quick fix of the latest paperback at their local bookstore which generally excuses rather than challenges their lukewarm condition.
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:5,6).
The second trend which stifles Godly animation is the increasing popularity of pop psychology. Typically these psychologists are short on biblical theology and demeaning to the comprehensive work of Christ upon the cross. Any behavior which is deemed by these “experts” to be unbalanced is somehow related to a dysfunctional background or a co-dependant relationship. No thought is given to man’s depravity or an individual’s personal responsibility for his own actions.
Interestingly enough these same psychologists take great pains to demean and tarnish the testimony of the reformers and revivalists of yesteryear, for their lives eclipse the new “balanced theology” they are trying to promote.
For example: Luther is described as an “insecure workaholic.” Never mind that he saved the church from apostasy, published the Bible for the common man, initiated the Protestant work ethic and was the bedrock for Western Civilization as we know it.
Or take the case of John and Charles Wesley, who are described as “having manic depressive tendencies” and “dangerously unbalanced.” Of course, John and Charles Wesley were dangerous, TO HELL, that is! Between them, they preached 85,000 sermons, wrote 250 books and 7000 hymns. In addition to this, they saved their beloved England from the kind of blood bath embodied by the French Revolution. Oh, that we should have more of such unbalanced, insecure, workaholic, manic depressive warriors. We might actually win our current culture war!
These same psychologists are guilty of historical and theological revisionism which robs the saints of their robust and glorious heritage and replaces it with the touchy-feely, blame-your-parents-for-everything syndrome, effectively neutering and contradicting orthodox Christianity.
“Our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus gave Himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify for Himself a peculiar people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:13,14).
The following is a complete “recovery plan” for those who wish to renew their spiritual passion:
1) Cultivate your relationship with Christ in a fresh and vital way. Unload preconceived ideas which have skewed your vision of who Jesus is and search after Him as a man searches for a treasure. Look for the underpinning principals and patterns of scripture in order to rebuild a Godly vision and purpose for your life.
Then dare to be abandoned in executing God’s purposes for your life with much fasting, prayer and concentrated Bible study. Do not fear “burning out” for God! Indeed to burn out upon the altar of self-promotion or to run upon the ecclesiastical treadmills of futility, that is certainly sin. However, to know real exhaustion after a major spiritual conflict and victory, that is true satisfaction.
2) Reclaim your spiritual heritage by reading the original source material of historic Christianity, not books written second hand. For example, if you wish to study the works of John Calvin, then read Calvin, not books about Calvin which may have a bias or untoward agenda. Be rich in your Christian heritage, so that you may have a foundation for destiny in God.
3) Begin to build a comprehensive Christian worldview. Know your election and mission from God within this context and then hurl your every faculty toward this purpose. Yes indeed, “Seek first the kingdom of God!”
Jeff Ziegler is president of Christian Evangelistic Endeavors, a ministry dedicated to bringing a great and mighty revival to the Church and spiritual awakening throughout the nations. C.E.E. sponsors Intensive Revival School, a two year discipleship training program designed to prepare students for the ministry. Revival Flame, a bimonthly newsletter published by C.E.E., contains articles written by staff members and revivalists of old concerning revivals past and present. If you wish to receive Revival Flame, write:
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With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?
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