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Joshua-gate: Part 4. Divestment--The Forgotten Words of Christ

 

Joshua-gate
Part 4. Divestment--The Forgotten Words of Christ

April 21, 2008
By Ron and Karen Schwartz
 

  • There is a word for contemporary Christians, but it is not a word of assurance and comfort as is being preached from pulpits all across our land, and it is not a word of encouragement as spoken by contemporary (self-proclaiming) prophets. The word is “Divest.” Recently, the Spirit of the Lord spoke to an assembly of His people and said, “Divest yourself of all things you think make you spiritual.”
     

The Greatest Lies

Most Christians see Satan as the Great Deceiver, so they try to focus their attention on thwarting his deeds. They believe that the great deception of the last days is his action to deceive the world into denouncing the deity of God through social corruption and sin such as humanism, atheism, abortion, liberalism, and the homosexual agenda. As a result, they undertake a less than mediocre attempt to prevent these social sins from overtaking their societies. But all these activities of Satan are what in military terms may best be described as “feints.”

“Feints” are “maneuvers designed to distract or mislead, done by giving the impression that a certain maneuver will take place, while in fact another, or even none, will.” One type of feint is when an army pretends to be attacking in one area to draw the enemy’s attention away from the place where the true attack will occur. That way, while the enemy is marshaling its forces in one area, the real attack takes place in another.

The scripture tells us that Satan is the ultimate foe, with superior knowledge and an unfathomable ability to deceive. Knowing this, why would we as Christians believe that Satan’s objectives and activities are so obvious that his strategies would be so predictable? The social sin that we see all around us is obviously from Satan. It goes without saying. But to assume that social sin is his ultimate strategy discredits him and makes Christians foolish. All these social sins (which he is certainly behind) are feints, designed to draw attention away from his actual attack. These feints cause Christians to continually look at the world and society to find satanic activity, thereby preventing them from seeing the true focus of his assault.

Consider how cleverly disguised is his deception. First, allow Christians to build societies founded on godly principles, and then bring these societies under attack. The “wicked, lazy servant[s]” of God (contemporary Christians), seeing the assault upon their Christian values in society, become “afraid.” Knowing that they are losing ground to societal sin, they have “circled their wagons” around their churches, valiantly proclaiming that these sins will not become part of their last bastions of hope. They don’t understand that these social sins, which now seem to be assaulting their churches, are not the true nature of Satan’s attack. His goal is NOT to get Christians to renounce God and turn to sin. He has done this in the past and mighty revivals came about as a result. No, this time he’s much cleverer: he will accomplish the same thing without the possibility of revival.
 


Social Utopia

Christians are on the defensive. They have invested their treasures in “society.” They engrave “In God We trust” on their currency, post the Ten Commandments in their courtrooms, teach Creation in schools, and offer prayers at their sports events. But these novelties are merely icons of their faith and not the actual substance of it. Satan has allowed and even encouraged Christians to “invest” in these outward manifestations of their faith for a reason. He wants Christians to spend their time and focus their energy on engravings and statutes instead of their spiritual lives. He knows that in attacking these icons Christians will rally around them and deify them.

Consequently, Christians are battling society for their rights to have shrines engraved on their walls and on their currency while remaining ignorant of the true nature of Satan’s attacks. And as they lose their battles, they become more and more afraid of the other “social” liberties they stand to lose. Just as profitless as burying money in the ground is the effort Christians waste on battling society over Christian rights.

This is the reason why God does not aid Christians in their efforts to create their Christian utopia. He’s not interested in their social utopia. He wants, no… He demands that His people serve Him and exalt Him above the engraved icons of their faith. God is a jealous God, and He doesn’t care about Christian shrines, idols, or the icons of their faith that serve to exalt their achievements instead of the gospel of Christ.

It’s not that a Christian utopia would not be a nice thing to have. And yes, we ought to stand up and firmly advocate doing what is right. The problem is that our focus on social and political agendas has become such a major distraction. Many Christians feel that it is their ONLY PURPOSE IN LIFE. They feel that it is God’s will for them to battle politically for society to adopt Christian values and morality. They have come to believe that God views their success or failure by the degree of social redemption they achieve. That is simply not the case. Nowhere in the scripture are we encouraged to change the morality of an unsaved society. It is an impossible goal. Christians who try to do so will find themselves at war with the unsaved, because it all comes down to personal rights. Instead of warring with the lost over societal morality, we are supposed to bring redemption to them.

Let’s be clear about this. God’s will is that none “should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).” The Great Commission is not to go into the world to change its morality but to bring the gospel to the lost. This is what seems to be forgotten among today’s politically active, socially militant Christians: the pursuit of God’s true objective, which is to “go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15).”

This is not to say that we don’t have responsibilities to society; we do. But our responsibilities do not include the hostile antagonistic opposition (pervasive in Christian thinking) against all those who do not embrace our morality. In contrast, Christianity is meant to be socially responsible for the weak and unfortunate. It is meant to care for the “fatherless” and the “widows (James 1:27)” by showing the love of Christ to those in need.

Does this mean that we should allow society to push their morality on us? Or, as Christians like to ask, “Does this mean that we should lie down and ‘take it’ like the proverbial doormat?”

This is “cart before the horse” thinking. If Christians would simply do what they are supposed to do, society would take care of itself. That is, if Christians would “humble themselves” and repent [“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways (repent); then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14)”], if they would embrace the Great Commission and evangelize [“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15)”], and if they would take responsibility for the poor, the needy, and the outcast [“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world (James 1:27)”], then all these things would take care of themselves [“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33)”]. However, as long as Christians continue to selfishly focus on their own interests, comfort, and enjoyment, the world (society) will never see Christianity as the benevolent faith it is meant to be. Instead, Christianity will be hated.


The Choice of Humility

It is this idea of “humility (1 Chronicles 7:14)” that is lost among the politically active Christian “thinking” of today. Christians view their western nations as belonging to “them” – not to God. They take their “rights” in hand and arrogantly demand civil liberties, and then they wonder why God does not rush to their aid. Today Christianity has a choice. Christians can “humble themselves, and pray, and seek [God’s] face, and turn from their wicked ways (repent),” and wait for God to “hear from heaven …forgive their sin, and … heal their land (1 Chronicles 7:14),” or they can create political action groups and “try” to do it under their own power. But then, Christians have already made their choice haven’t they? And their choice does not include God. Contemporary Christians are arrogant enough to believe that they can change society through their own effort, and through the intelligence, politics, and savvy of their own experts. They do pray also as a sort of backup plan in case their efforts fail, however, it is clear that they do not trust God to be capable of the job without their help. Or perhaps it’s just that the idea of humility is lost to the self-confident, power hunger, and self-absorbed Christian leaders who shape the opinion of contemporary Christianity. Christians will ask, “should we do nothing?” To that we respond: “Absolutely not. Why not try humility and repentance. Why not listen to God rather than the leaders who are looking only to make a name for themselves.”

It is clear that going “into all the world and preach[ing] the gospel (Mark 16:15)”, taking responsibility for the poor, the needy, and the outcast (James 1:27)” and allowing God the govern their lives (Matthew 6:33)” are not viable options for today’s socially militant Christians. Christians don’t want to redirect their money toward the poor and away from their buildings, their ministries, and their programs (less than 1% goes to the poor and outcast). Neither do they wish to embrace the outcast, the drug addict, the prostitute, or the gang members in their churches. They see themselves as being above such social “trash.” As a result, their only option is to go to war with society and attempt to achieve their religious agenda by creating a Christian utopia. However, this is a war they will never win. The “commoners” (society) are rebelling against what they see as today’s aristocracy (the arrogant, moralizing, and didactic Christians).

History records that Christian’s once succeeded in creating their utopia. It was known as the Holy Roman Empire. This is what can be expected when religion is successful in creating its own utopia. Consequently, it is clear that the healing of our nations must come from God. But to have His support there must first come humility and true repentance from His people. Because of the politically militant course that some Christians have chosen, Christians everywhere will eventually be hurt. Those who enjoy homeschool education will come under attack, religious liberties in public schools and the workplace will fall victim, and every social religious right and freedom we currently enjoy will come under scrutiny. Our only hope is not found in politics but in the promises of God. We must humble ourselves, seek His face, and repent.

Satan knows that for their arrogance Christians will not turn to God but battle society over religious rights all on their own. Consequently, Christians are unable to see the attack on their social values as a “feint” designed to ensnare them in a battle that will simply waste their energy. They have invested too much into their societies to trust them to God. Once again we remind you that we must humble ourselves, seek His face, and repent.
 


Political Interference

In addition, the preoccupation that Christians have with the politics of Israel is another feint. Christians politic, lobby, and campaign, along with government officials and religious organizations, to try to stop what they view as the final climatic assault on God’s Chosen People (Israel). How foolish! Satan has cleverly orchestrated these things. He knows where Christians place their values, so that is exactly where he directs his feints. Christians see these attacks and respond just like Satan knew they would: they bury their talent (i.e., engage in useless, profitless activities) by battling solely against political agendas while the true nature of Satan’s attack goes unnoticed. Does anyone really believe that the objectives of our greatest adversary are so transparent? Do Christians really believe that his cunning and guile are so elementary?

Contemporary Christianity has eroded under the subtle assaults of Satan to become the center of the most concealed form of idolatry that this world has ever known. Its idols are not made of wood and stone but of flesh and blood. The idols they worship are themselves. It is a clever deception, is it not? While Christians are attempting to shore up the sin eroding their societies (no matter how lame their efforts may be), then he begins the true attack: cleverly disguising idolatry as spiritual maturity.

Christians have invested centuries of effort in creating their pseudo-Christian utopian societies. One needs only to visit any Christian forum or listen to any Christian network to see its effect. The goal and objective of every Christian organization has at its core the creation of a Christian social utopia. As a result, social fulfillment becomes the goal of every Christian church, and the church’s spiritual net worth is measured by the amount of personal fulfillment that each member experiences. Consequently, Christians have become very self-indulgent. Their lives are consumed by the pursuit of this utopia in both their social and spiritual settings.

Revelation 3:14-18
"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.


Contemporary churches have bought into the myth that “gain is godliness.” They have come to believe that a growing church that is financially productive, able to undertake building programs, and able to afford to hire more staff is a church that God has blessed and in which the Spirit of God is moving. Such a philosophy has given rise to the “word of faith” and the “prosperity” movements. Consequently, it should come as no surprise that Satan continues to use this myth to thrust the church into the final stages of his deception: idolatry.

Think about it. When any church believes that growth in numbers, finances, and building size are measures of how blessed they have become, it then concludes that greater numbers and finances are ultimately the will of God. Therefore, its success and effectiveness can be measured by how productive it is (in regard to membership and donations) in comparison to other churches of the community. This eventually leads to the culture we have today – pervasive throughout Christendom - where everything concerning Christianity revolves around churches, and where individual Christian identity is defined by the particular church they attend rather than the Lord they claim to serve.

Christianity is supposed to center around the “good news” of Christ’s death and resurrection, and it is therefore supposed to be evangelistic. Instead, it has become all about the personal fulfillment of its members. They are obsessed with making themselves feel better spiritually. There is no end to inspirational books, Christian media, churches, and broadcast Christian entertainment that encourage Christians to continue their “pursuit of happiness.” The poor, the needy, and the outcast of society fall by the wayside as they pursue their pleasures. What Christians see today as their utopia is in reality their apostasy. Their pursuit of self-fulfillment has created the competitive, non-cooperative, divisive, egocentric, and self-centered form of Christianity we find everywhere. It has ultimately become the apostate form of church that we find today in communities everywhere. These churches largely ignore their communities and sacrifice the “good news” for self-indulgence.

This form of Christianity is Laodicean Christianity. It is all about individual pseudo-spiritual and social fulfillment, where self-fulfillment becomes the goal. As churches reach this level of apostasy, they claim, ”I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.” Churches like this have need of nothing that money can’t buy, and therefore they have no need of God. They buy church members by building better churches and through purchasing better preachers than their competition. With more members come more finances and the ability to build even bigger churches. But contemporary churches are not the true Church of the living God. They are edifices of death. They are whores that sell themselves for pay.

Like every good junkie, Christians have become addicted to their pleasures, and the churches have become places where Christians go to get their fix. Churches are not threats to the “gates of hell,” but they most certainly are threatened by them.

The greatest lies are not the lies told by Satan to keep the world in sin – everyone in the world knows that they need God regardless of how much they deny it. The greatest lies are those embraced by contemporary Christians to validate their belief that their profitless activities - done in the name of Christ – are the work and the will of the Lord.


The forgotten words of Jesus

Luke 18:18-25
18 A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
19 "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good — except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: 'Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.' "
21 "All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said.
22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
23 When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth. 24 Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! 25 Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."


The theme of Christ’s teaching has at its center a single instruction: divest!

The institutional church, for the most part, actually ignores the words of Jesus and instead focuses all its attention and effort on the epistles of Paul. But have the writings of Paul made void the teachings of Christ? Is it possible to do one without the other? Or is it possible that the teachings of Jesus are supposed to be the center of the New Testament, and if so, then why are His teachings ignored?

Many Christians will take issue with this. They will retort, “We have not ignored His teaching. It is precious to us.” Okay, if so, ask yourself this: What would happen if the institutional church actually embraced and obeyed Jesus’ teaching? What would happen if churches would divest themselves of their property, give it to the poor, and simply follow Christ? Churches bring in around $100 billion each year but give less than 1% of this to the poor and needy. Some churches claim to give 5% to 10% of their income to the poor, but this is only because they roll into their numbers administration fees, support for Western missionaries, and building and utility expenses for all programs that can also support community and social affairs. However, be not deceived. The vast majority of these expenses are incurred because their constituents want it. Churches merely open their programs to the public.

What would happen if the church itself would obey the words of Jesus (whom they claim to serve) and divest itself of the trillions of dollars in assets they own. For one thing, world poverty might just about be eliminated. Along with that, at least $100 billion per year could go to maintaining that status. Churches would find that when their members can see their money being used for something more important than parking lots and sound systems, contributions would actually increase. Instead of a meager 3% of their income, Christians would give 10% to 20%, and contributions would approach a trillion dollars per year. Remember the hundreds of millions of dollars that poured in from everywhere following disasters of Hurricane Katrina and the World Trade Center on 9/11? That is what the church is capable of. So why not obey the words of Jesus? Why not divest?

Many Christians seek to justify the need for the beautiful buildings by explaining that they “build churches to draw the unsaved.” Such a statement is utterly ridiculous. How many sinners drive past a church and say to their friends: “Look at that church! I can’t wait to go there next Sunday!” They are not thinking about going to church on Sunday, nor do they think that because some church is particularly fancy they want to attend it. They are thinking about sleeping in on Sunday, getting drunk, going fishing, playing golf, watching the game, etc. But the few sinners who do get desperate enough to attend a church each year and get saved are enough for contemporary churches to claim success.

Let’s be honest. Contemporary churches do not pick locations in upscale neighborhoods to build their majestic churches because they are trying to draw the lost. They are trying to draw rich Christians. If they truly wanted to draw the lost, they would build their churches in the inner cities where they could do the most good – where the truly desperate people live.

Moreover, if Christians were truly honest, they would admit that they really do not want to draw sinners. What would happen if the world really took churches up on their offer, and one Sunday, dozens, hundreds, or thousands (depending on the size of the church) of sinners walked in and sat down? Prostitutes dressed their working clothes, drug addicts who haven’t showered in weeks, murderers, inner city gang members, etc. What would happen? Well, you can be sure that if people of this sort came in, the Christians would leave and find another church where “that sort” are not welcome.

So let’s quit lying that the majestic, upscale churches in affluent suburbia were built in the name of Christ, for His glory, and “to reach people.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Churches are designed and built not to attract the world but to attract wealthy Christians.

Up to this point we have merely considered the easy part. That is to say, we have only considered the financial aspects of divestment as instructed by Jesus. However, the words the Spirit spoke were not about the financial aspects of our lives but about divesting ourselves in the areas we consider spiritual.


Divestment

In many ways, contemporary Christians act like investment brokers. They see their life as a portfolio of investments and invest in whatever yields them the highest rate of return. The problem is that their return on investment is not a return that benefits God. It is what benefits them individually. Consequently, before they can begin to be a benefit to God, they must first divest themselves of their current investments.

Paul observed how quickly the Galatians embraced “another [alternate (Wuest)] gospel.” If the Galatians could be guilty of embracing an alternate gospel, should it surprise you that contemporary Christians are also guilty of embracing an alternate form of spirituality – something they believe to be spirituality but in reality is little more than self-indulgence?

The form of spirituality in which contemporary Christians continue to invest is a “feel good” religion. It encourages them to placate to Christian needs for pleasure instead of evangelizing the lost, it covers up the guilt Christians feel for not obeying the words of Christ. It rationalizes away their sin, apathy, and compromise, and it numbs them against the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

That is why it is so very important for Christians to divest themselves of the form of spirituality they have come to believe is from God. It is not from God. It is part of Satan’s end time deception. It is part of Joshua-gate.

We call upon you to see yourselves as God does. When you walk down the street and see a woman all decked out in seductive attire, do you think of her as virtuous? Of course not. So when God sees apostate, idolatrous, compromising Christians attending church, “acting” like something in their hearts they are not, pretending to be spiritual, anointed, and gifted, do you think He tells Himself, “Now, there is a super Christian”? Of course not. He calls them as they are. He says, “Now, there is a whore.”

If you are ever to truly receive from God, you must divest yourself of your acting, your pretending, your arrogance. You must freely admit that you are a fake and a fraud. If your arrogance will not allow it, then be sure of this: someday everyone will know what kind of fraud you are.

You probably believe that you and your church are spiritually sound, but then, don’t all Christians think that way? If you are at par with most Christians and your church is at least par with most other churches, and most other churches are spiritually dry fountains, then what does that say about you? We beseech you to listen to the words of Jesus: “You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” Quit buying into Joshua-gate. Quit buying into the greatest lies from the greatest liar. You are not what you think you are. Your greatness and spiritual “overcoming” exists only in your mind. It’s time to get real. It’s time to divest.
 


Final Thoughts…

It’s important to understand that God never said that our nations must repent in order to receive His healing - God said that His people must. In the book of Revelation we find that after the curses and plagues are poured out upon this world that people “still [will] not repent (Revelation 9:20).” Since God only asks that His people repent it becomes clear that the arrogant and defiant people of that age are His. If Sodom would have been spared for 10 righteous what then do we know about the end of this age? We know that judgment does not hinge upon the “spiritual” condition of this world, but upon that of God’s people. If judgment is falling upon our nations it’s because of the failure of Christians and not the sins in our land.

In addition, we all know that Saul was the first king of Israel and that his reign ended in disaster. Saul eventually overstepped his authority and was rejected by God. But Saul’s predisposition to overstep what God ordained for him was, in fact, characteristic of his reign. Twice in the book of Samuel God said that He ordained Saul to be a “captain” over His people (1 Samuel 9:16, 10:1). The Hebrew word used is nagid, which means “chief leader” or head of a family. However, when Samuel presented Saul to the people, they declared him to be their “king (1 Samuel 10:24).” The Hebrew word used is mamlakah which means “kingdom, sovereignty, dominion, or reign.”

We find here that God and His people had two different opinions. God had in mind to give the people a political leader as their “captain.” The people, however, were looking to replace God with a king. Whether or not God remained king of His people lay squarely in the hands of Saul. Would he succumb to the flattery of God’s people, or would deny himself and take his rightful place as their leader? Saul succumbed to flattery, choosing to accept their endorsement instead of God’s.

The tragedy of this situation is that it did not end there. Church leaders throughout history have refused to recognize the disastrous consequences of giving in to the flattery of their followers and accepting the mantle of king. People are never satisfied with just a leader. They want someone who will be an icon of their kingdom, someone to set on a pedestal, someone they can deify and follow. Christians continue to press their leaders to be more than what God apportioned to them. And their leaders humbly accepted this new role, excusing their sin by saying, “I never wanted this responsibility. They made me take it.”

Remember Saul. Whether or not he replaced God as their king was in his hands. It was not up to the people. The people declared him to be their king, but God declared him to be their leader. Who would he listen to? We know what happened. Saul chose the grandeur of the kingship the people offered, and in doing so, he stole the kingdom from God. Don’t allow that to be the commentary on your life.

Most Christian leaders find it both impossible and impractical to “divest” themselves of the honor and respect they feel is due them because of their ministries. Like the Pharisees, they sit in “chief seats” resembling thrones, set up in front of the congregation, sometimes even on a platform or stage. Are they willing to follow the words of the Christ and divest themselves of all their grandeur? Would they “sell it all” and follow Christ?

We call on Christian leaders to set an example for the church to follow. Divest yourselves of your greatness, of all that you believe makes you special and spiritual, and then perhaps your congregations will do the same. Look at the cold arrogance of your congregation and understand that you are looking through the window of your own heart. Therefore, we call upon Christian leaders to repent and to “divest” themselves of all that they hold as spiritually valuable.

Satan’s plan of deception is not at all as simplistic and transparent as you think. He has guile that you cannot begin to fathom. The deceptive nature of Joshua-gate is far too cunning. Consequently, you must listen to the small voice in your heart that is telling you it is time to stop being a fraud and repent. Don’t try to figure it out. Just do what in your heart you know that you must: divest!


Amen


kmsrjs@triton.net


 

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