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Will We Get the Message?

By Editorial Staff
Published October 1, 1989

By Bob Muni

Recently a team of researchers led by Dr. Ralph Neighbor conducted a survey in New Zealand. They asked people: “How would you describe the apparent condition of the Church?” The answers: “Irrelevant, unheard, ineffective, impotent …” Strong words!

We may not like the above description, but the facts are hard to ignore. The very people we are called to reach, the world, have responded with a negative and unpleasant message. It would be easy to give way to pious platitudes and self-righteous remarks. As human beings we would rather convince ourselves that they are wrong, they don’t understand, they are just not one of us. It might be tempting but it would be wrong.

We need to take a look at ourselves through the eyes of those we are trying to reach. The lessons might be painful as we see ourselves through their eyes. If we have ears to hear we might benefit immensely from what is being said and become more effective in our mission.

In Matthew 5:13-6, Jesus likens the Church to the salt of the earth and the light of the world. We are exhorted to be full of flavor as salt causing people to be thirsty for the source of our life. Our lives must be as a light open for all to see, set on a hill, our good works causing people to glorify our Father in heaven.

We are warned also, that if the salt loses its flavor and the light is hidden, we become good for nothing and easily trampled under foot. This sounds a lot like the description of the Church in the survey, doesn’t it? Irrelevant, unheard, ineffective, impotent … these words describe a savorless salt and a light that has been hidden.

Let us examine several reasons why the salt has become tasteless to the lost and the light has grown dim to the world. In viewing the problem, we will also see some of the solutions.

The Salt Has Been Kept In The Shaker

Christian activities have consumed so much of people’s lives that they have no time and little energy to make or have an impact in the world. Salt is most useful when it has been poured out of the shaker.

Christianity has been practiced in the midst of our “holy huddles.” There is a lack of Christian energy being expended on reaching the lost. We are using it all up at our gatherings.

Jesus has commanded us to go – to bring the kingdom of God with us to a lost world. We have instead been trying to bring the world to Christian meetings. We have been seen as irrelevant because Christians have been nowhere to be seen.

The Power Of The Cross Has Been Diluted

Compromise in standards of holiness and biblical purity has allowed the people we are supposed to reach to ask: “How is your life different from mine?”

We must have tangible evidence of integrity, honesty, and purity consistent with biblical principles. If the Cross has no effect on our lives and we do not conduct ourselves any differently than the world, we will have no power to witness. No one is going to listen to the words of truth from a life riddled with sin.

If there really is power over sin from the Cross, then it must be practiced before it can be preached with power. When we begin to believe that there really is power in the Cross and our lives consistently reflect it, then we will arrest the world’s attention.

The light is growing dim because there is too much darkness in our midst. We have been living in gray areas and God has called us to be lights. That means we have a stark contrast with darkness, not a compromise to accommodate it.

Wrong thinking from humanism, secularism, existentialism and all the other “isms” have crept into our thinking and lifestyles. Too much emphasis has been placed on man. We must return to the power of the Cross as the power source of life in the Church.

Legalism Has Left a Bad Taste in People’s Mouths

In the absence of real internal power being expressed in our lives, we have reverted to lists, rules, expectations and traditions to govern our behavior. We have too often relied on forms but have not enlisted or trusted the power of God. The Holy Spirit wants to govern our lives as the love of Christ constrains us. The grace of God is a mixing of the power and desire to do God’s will internally.

God wants the freedom to mold people into His image for them. Often we are too quick to try to mold new converts into the image of what we think God wants them to be rather than letting God do it.

We need to closely examine all areas in our Christian institutions to rid them of all the vestiges of legalism. Only what is found in the liberty of the Spirit will contain the flavor to draw others to the Father.

In John, 13:35 Jesus says: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Is the world seeing this love? Or are they seeing church splits, factionalism and backbiting?

Who would want to be a Christian if all they see is division? There is too much of that in the world already. How can they believe that we would love them if we can’t even express love among ourselves?

Our example of love speaks louder that our words. People are looking for the real thing – LOVE – the unconditional agapĂ© flavor. When people see us living lives full of love, their desire for love will be aroused. When we can be united our light will burn far brighter than it does.

We Have Lost Our First Love

The only flavor or light we have as Christians is that which the Father imparts through us. The only way to remain flavorful and full of light is to spend time with Him.

We must return to our first love. Seeking God must be our passion. Activity is no substitute for time with God. Doing God’s work is not the same as seeking Him. Our priorities must be adjusted accordingly.

Jesus said He would spew the lukewarm out of His mouth. We must remain hot, full of passionate love, not lukewarm and half-hearted. That means 100% of our lives must be given to Him. Anything less than full consecration is diluted and lukewarm.

We Christians have created a safe little subculture. We have our own protocol, traditions, methods and meetings. We have even developed our own language. To the outsider looking in, we appear weird. The result is that people stay away in crowds.

We need to be real people relating to the world in real ways. We are commanded to be “in the world but not of the world.” But too many of us have compartmentalized our lives wanting to be “out of this world.” We won’t be heard if we are not understandable.

We need to find ourselves relating in real ways, addressing the pressing, relevant issues of today in language they can understand, not in “Christianese” or with chapter and verse. There needs to be a tangibly felt link in bringing the kingdom of God within us to the outside world.

So many of our attempts at reaching out have really been inviting people into a meeting to watch us be different. We need to be different out in the world and not just in meetings. Our love and compassion is what make’s us different. If we can’t demonstrate our love for the lost, we are totally missing the purpose of the Great Commission.

We have been commissioned to go out into the world and be in their midst, demonstrating the love and power of God in practical, understandable ways. But first we must remove the religious garb that isolates us and keeps us from being real among real people.

Up until now, we have been using methods that are comparable to fishing with a pole. When we go out in the way Jesus did among sinners, ministering in their midst, addressing real problems with working answers, we will begin to fish with nets and they will be full.

There is a tremendous challenge set before us. In God’s grace let us meet it and see our world rise up to meet Jesus.


Forerunner - Home » The Forerunner Newspaper » Revival and Spiritual Awakening

Your comments are welcome!

Enjoyed the article very much. Great points and well-organized. Thank you.

Posted by Lipehn Sale on 12/28/2012 06:05 PM #

Textile Help

The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.

All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - How Should We Then Live? (DVD)

Special Two-Disc Set!

After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.

Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - A Christian Manifesto (DVD)

That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!

Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.

Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.

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A Revival Account: Asbury 1970 (DVD)

What is true Revival and Spiritual Awakening?

Discover the answer in this eyewitness account by Dennis Kinlaw, President of Asbury College, Wilmore, Kentucky, who recounts the story of a visitation of the Holy Spirit in 1970. This is the presentation that has continued to spark the flames of Revival in the hearts of people around the world. Contains eyewitness footage from the Revival at Asbury College in 1970 in Wilmore, Kentucky.

Certain to challenge you to greater holiness and a deeper commitment to full-scale revival. Original news and private footage has been included. If you are a student who longs to see a spiritual awakening at your school, you must see this video!

“This simple video does a wonderful job of conveying something of God’s heart and power, Everyone we have ever shown this to has received an immediate impartation of faith for revival and the power of prayer.”
— Bob and Rose Weiner, Weiner Ministries Int’l

Running Time: 40 minutes

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The Beast of Revelation IdentifiedThe Beast of Revelation: Identified (DVD)

Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?

Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!

Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.

Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)

Running Time: 145 minutes

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