The creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to decay and death into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Romans 8:21
Our online dictionary includes this definition for the word “Hebrew”:
ORIGIN: from Old French Ebreu, via Latin from late Greek Hebraios, from Aramaic ‛i b ray, based on Hebrew ‛i b rî — understood to mean ‘one from the other side (of the river).’
Abraham’s descendants’ escaping from Egypt and, with divine Providence, rushing across the “parted” Red Sea certainly do come to mind. Hebrew = one from the other side — or, as this is sometimes expressed, “one who crossed over.” The Red Sea is a long, narrow, land-locked sea; in some ways it is more like a river. Further, Joshua would much later lead the Israelis into the Land by crossing the Jordan River near Jericho.
When we visited Israel a couple of years back, we learned that “Bethlehem” means in Hebrew “house of bread.” He who has been referred to as “Panis Angelicus,” Bread of Angels, the ultimate “manna,” the one who illustrated His “body, broken for you” with bread — was born in the House of Bread!
Yeshua’s kind of “bread” differs from the ordinary kind, however. When we eat ordinary bread, it becomes us, so to speak. But when we appropriate Christ, we become increasingly like Him through the new birth.
Jesus spoke of the importance of being “born again” to Nicodemus, who was a Pharisee and had come to Him at night in the hope of not being seen by his own colleagues. When we think about the definition of “Hebrew” meaning essentially “one who crossed over,” the word itself seems to speak of this new birth — in addition to Israel’s exodus. Consider Abraham, Rahab, and Ruth. They left their very different former lives to become Israelis — to “cross over” to a new and unknown life; they somehow summoned the faith to move toward this new life in preference to what was familiar. They sensed something better; they crossed over.
In Isaiah we find the stirring words, “Behold, I am doing a new thing; can you not perceive it?” We find a paraphrase of the first part of this statement in Revelation: “Behold, I make all things new.”
Astrophysicists tell us that more than 200 finely-tuned characteristics of Earth reveal that the universal stage was set in advance for us — for billions of years. And that Earth is in a unique place and time parameter that enables us to observe these exquisite elements of design. A personal Creator had you and me in mind.
Scientists who have also studied Scripture recognize in it a setting forth in several texts — not only in those in Genesis 1 — of the astonishingly-unique process of setting the stage for our world for the very purpose of creating — not suns, but sons.
When He was physically present with us, Jesus often referred to Himself as “the Son of man.” He is described this way in the fiery-furnace story in the book of Daniel in the Old Testament as well. But after the resurrection His description, in the epistles for example, consistently becomes “the Son of God.”
“Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like Him, because we will see Him as He really is. And all who have this hope will keep themselves pure, just as He is pure.” (1 John 3:2,3)
The goal that Jesus put before Nicodemus is the same one He puts before you and me — to become citizens of the newer creation that “eye has not seen and ear has not heard.” The one in which weapons will have been transformed into garden tools that facilitate life. In which there will be no more killing or evil or death. No animal predation. No sickness or sorrow or night. The perfect creation — as God would design it.
“You must be born again,” Jesus told Nicodemus, the apparently wise, older man.
“Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness — without it no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)
God’s love and mercy are freely extended to all. He waits as long as He can. His desire is that as many as possible will enter the Kingdom of all things new.
“Then Bildad the Shuhite answered, ‘Dominion and awe belong to Him….’
Then Job responded….. ‘To whom have you uttered words? And whose spirit was expressed through you?'” -Job 25.1-2a, 26.1a, 4
In Job 25, Bildad the Shuhite gave a theological statement that was basically true in form and content, but it was only a categorical burst of words, and for his hearer, it was an ill-fitted word that was totally out of season.
In a culture that has drowned in multi-colored billboards and ads, 24-hour newscasting, and other flagrant profusions of excessive speech, there is a radical need for God-infused speaking. It can only come forth through the Church, for we are the only ones who have been touched by mercy and truth, but “woe unto the world” when the house of God itself has slipped into a categorical mode of speaking and a mechanical mode of living.
It is little wonder that our “small talk” is often laced with gossip and slander. It is little wonder that our meticulous theological conversations and debates often lack the reverence and joy that mark a man who is abiding in a true knowledge of God. It is little wonder that the proclamation of the Gospel has often been reduced to an attempt at “relevance” or a robotic delivery of “logical” Christian truth, devoid of authority and unction from above. It’s no wonder that our casual conversations often slip into sin, for we have diminished our distinctive calling to prayer, and thereby lost the ability to speak rightly of God.
We have been busy speaking and doing, but we have failed to be found in the place of prayer, and this has been the seedbed for all our hollowness. We have run to-and-fro in various works to the neglect of prayer, and we have therefore been unconscious of His present love and untouched by the fear of the Lord. We are not leading the saints into a life of brokenness before God. Failing here, we open the gate for failure everywhere. If we have not gazed upon His majesty in prayer, we will not be able to speak of Him rightly. And if we fail to speak of Him rightly, we cannot speak of anything rightly, for He is the source and essence of truth itself. When He is diminished, all else is distorted. What then can be said of this “Bildadic” mode of ministry and life?
We are like the Shuhite, even using language of “awe,” but falling short of a true proclamation, for we have been unwilling or too busy to give ourselves to the counsel of the Lord Himself. It is in prayer where His truth becomes true in our souls, and His reality is made real in our hearts. We can trot out our doctrinal persuasions, our clever and catchy sermons, or our views in counseling, but the question must be asked:
“To whom have you uttered words? And whose spirit was expressed through you?”
Bildad expressed the “awe” of God, and the doctrine that He alone “establishes peace.” (v. 1) In verse 3 of Ch. 25 he declared the might of God, raising the rhetorical question, “Is there any number to His troops?” He declared the holiness of God and the depravity of man in vv. 5-6: “If even the moon has no brightness and the stars are not pure in His sight, how much less man, that maggot, and the son of man, that worm!” In a word, he gave a theological statement that left little to be corrected or added to. It was commendable in many ways. But is was not the word of God Himself, for it failed to set forth the present testimony of Jesus Christ, and Job detected it. The apostle speaks to us today:
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.” -Eph. 4.29
Edification is not always given by a happy-go-lucky word. It is given by the present testimony of Jesus Christ, which is the “Spirit of prophecy.” It may be the most encouraging and joy-inducing word we’ve ever heard, or it may be a word calculated by the Lord to devastate our illusions, and shake us from the false comfort of delusion and slumber. Whatever it may be, the present testimony of Jesus is what we ought to covet.
We have the propensity for missing it along these lines, for our hearts are often dull and we see only in part. We are apt, usually based on our personalities, to lean in one direction or the other.
If we are bubbly souls naturally, or have a strong itch to please men and be accepted by them, we are more prone to flattering and complimenting others, and often we can do this without any counsel or anointing from the Holy Spirit.
I might call myself a “Barnabas” and think of my calling to encourage others, but I need to be sure that it is the encouragement of the Holy Spirit Himself, lest I find that I am only feeding my reputation as a nice guy, and even subtly manipulating others to think highly of myself.
Likewise, if I am a somber type, serious and critical toward all that is opposed to my personal preference, I may not flatter others too often, but I may also be in error. I may find it easy to correct or rebuke men, or to speak out against doctrines that I presume to be false, but I may just as well be totally devoid of the life of God. I may consider myself a “straight shooter”, and I may not feel as if I am pursuing the approval of men, but I might be guilty of self-glorification just the same.
Not many have been willing to come into this radical circumcision of the heart, though it is the call upon every saint. We have a mandate to speak as a prophetic people who have “tamed the tongue,” who are not consumed with our own opinions and the blab of our subjective ideas (even religious ideas), but whose speech is God-suffused, and leads men to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. It was said of Spurgeon that men who came to hear a sermon from the famed preacher, often left the meeting declaring, “O, how glorious is the Man, Christ Jesus!” They went to hear from the prince of preachers, and left consumed with a new vision of the Prince of Peace. Are our words and lives having that effect on the souls of men?
“…. where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding? Man does not know its value, Nor is it found in the land of the living.” -Job 28.12-13
The answer is not in leaning to one side or the other, nor is it to look for that “happy medium.” The word of the Lord is not found in what we can calculate as nice and encouraging or bold and confrontational. The word of the Lord transcends our wisdom. It is not one side or the other, it is fromabove; it is “that which proceeds from the mouth of God.” It is “spirit and life.” Do not look on the earthly plain, or weigh out the possible effects of your speech. We must instead allow the Lord to lay the axe to the root of our self-glorification, and go to prayer and to the Scriptures for the present testimony of Jesus Christ.
It is only found when we, in the temple of prayer like Isaiah, “see the Lord high and lifted up,” and the fiery coal is taken from the altar and put to our lips. When Uzziah dies, namely, when we stop seeking the approval of men and our own self-glorification, only then are we permitted to see the exalted Lamb. And when we see Him in His present exalted reality, we realize the uncleanness of our lips, and He is ever-willing to purge and send us. It is set into motion when we are willing to come to Him on that holy ground. This is His mercy.
And when the coal comes from that altar, since it is not initiated and performed by our wisdom but is a holy work of God, our speech will not only be singed or improved upon. Our high opinions will be torched, and our whole view of life and truth will be totally reforged. And seeing the Lord high and lifted up, being jealous only for His glory, we will be granted the authority and power to speak “as one who is speaking the utterances of God.”
The world is perishing and the Church is languishing for want of a true knowledge of God. The voices that will convey the present testimony of the Lord will be those who have given themselves to prayer, shutting down all other activity until they have met with the Lord in reality. The world needs desperately to hear that which is “of Him, through Him, and to Him,” and it will only hear that note sounded by those who have prostrated themselves on the heavenly threshold, eager only for God Himself, and the word which proceeds from Him.
“Behold, these are the fringes of His ways; And how faint a word we hear of Him!” (Job 26.14a)
O God, set Your people apart in this late hour. Deliver us from hollow living and shallow speaking. In Your boundless mercy, bring us into the present testimony of Jesus Christ, that we might live and speak as true voices, and not mere echoes. Confront us in our smug categorization of the faith, and let us be marked as those who “live, move, and have our being” in You, and You only. Give us earnestness after You, and a deep-seated jealousy for Your glory. Amen.
“For a little while your people possessed your holy place, but now our enemies have trampled down your sanctuary.” -Is. 63.18
This passage speaks of the holy place and the sanctuary in Jerusalem itself, but there is much to be drawn from it for our spiritual enlargement.
If, on New Testament terms, Paul has declared that we are the “temple” or the “sanctuary” of the Holy Spirit, then we also have the high privilege of possessing our own souls and sanctifying them unto the Lord. He longs to dwell in the midst of His people, revealing Himself to us, and expressing Himself through us. This is something more than spiritual performance, religious playacting, or learning the proper words to say and the proper faces to make. Our appearance and reputation matter not one jot or tittle if the “holy place” of our hearts has been invaded by the spirit of the world, and “our enemies have trampled down” the sanctuary of the inner-man.
The writer of the proverb has instructed us along this way: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” (4.23)
There is an intensity with which we must guard the inner-man, for the holy place of our heart is a tender place, and it can easily be trampled and flooded. It is our own responsibility to continually sanctify ourselves before the Lord, and to see to it that we are preferring His own life above our own. When at once you sink into your own wisdom and fail to possess and keep your heart before Him, the tenderness begins to harden, until eventually you have lost all touch with the reality of truth and love.
When our souls are dispossessed by untruth, when we cease to abide in the love of God, immediately the spirit of this age prevails and tramples the inner-man. This occurs not only in the overt moral failings of pornography, murder, and thievery, but also when we give ourselves over to a counterfeit kind of rest that is not the rest of God Himself. When we cease to guard that tender place of true union with God, we become brash towards others, speculative and suspicious, self-conscious, loose in speech, over-indulgent with money, entertainment and food, and many of the more subtle forms of compromise take the dominant place.
Our lives take on a cheap and synthetic nature, and the “springs of life” are replaced with something much more inglorious than that which the Lord has desired to give us. We may look Christian still, we may know how to put on a religious show, but we are giving up the holy place and allowing it to be trampled by the enemies of God. Our lingo may be correct, but anger, fear, and strife will have possession of our souls. Brethren, this is not the purpose of the Lord.
This trampling of the soul is the plight of all men without grace, but in the Gospel we are privileged and called to a life of abidingin the Son of God. You may only possess the holy place “for a little while,” but this is not your inheritance in Christ. Do not let your soul be trampled by the influences of this age, the lusts of the flesh, and the pride of life. Do not surrender your days or evenings to the enemy, dear saint. Let your heart be stilled before Him morning, noon, and night, and He will enlarge His own character and nature in your soul. The purity, tenderness, compassion and power of Jesus will become Your witness, and God Himself will be your portion and joy. Watch over your heart then, child of God.
“…. and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Acts 4.13b
The true Christian life is not a life of spiritual hand-me-downs in terms of experience. We can be encouraged by other saints, but we cannot live off of their testimonies and stories. We can receive insight from the brethren but we cannot ride their cloaks unto maturity. We can be quickened and challenged by their communion with the Lord but we cannot walk into the holy place by hiding behind their frames. The true life of faith is marked by the presence of God, and a believer’s walk with the Lord is founded upon the reality of actual experience with God in prayer and holy fellowship.
The Lord grants especial manifestations of Himself to the believer who seeks Him. He lavishly gives a freshness of faith, a vibrant love, and a sense of holy awe to the one who pursues Him. Charles Spurgeon gives us the real marks of a manifestation of Christ to the soul:
The Lord Jesus gives special revelations of Himself to His people.
…. Especial manifestations of Christ exercise a holy influence on the believer’s heart. One effect will be humility. If a man says, ‘I have had such-and-such spiritual communications, I am a great man’, he has never had any communion with Jesus at all; for ‘God hath respect unto the lowly: but the proud He knoweth afar off’. He does not need to come near them to know them, and will never give them any visits of love.
Another effect will be happiness; for in God’s presence there are pleasures for evermore.
Holiness will be sure to follow. A man who has no holiness has never had this manifestation.
…. Thus there will be three effects of nearness to Jesus- humility, happiness, and holiness. May God give them to thee, Christian!
(Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, May 12th entry)
This threefold mark upon the life of a Christian is evidence that his soul has enjoyed new and fresh transactions of communion with the Lord. May we forego a stale and categorical Christianity, and seek daily the newness of life that comes from seeing the Lamb of God afresh! And may our lives be marked with His distinctive presence- the sublime realities of humility, happiness, and holiness! Amen!
Respected Journalist Exposes the Scandals of the Charismatic Renewal–and Offers Hope
Contact: Brett Benson, 952-829-2529
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., April 14 /Christian Newswire/ — Financial scandal. Faulty theology. Moral failure. The last few years have shown that the Church and her leaders are not immune to scandal and corruption. The real problem, however, is that no one is holding them accountable. Until now.
Charismatic insider and contributing editor to Charisma magazine, J. Lee Grady has been a voice crying out against the abuse of the gifts of the Spirit in his weekly, award-winning column “Fire in My Bones.” Though an avid proponent of the charismatic experience, he has observed trends that both distress and anger him. And now he is overturning the money tables.
“Charismatic churches in America today are laden down with tons of baggage that needs to be thrown overboard,” says Grady.
In his new book “The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale” (Chosen/Baker Publishing Group), Grady exposes and confronts the scandals and problems plaguing charismatic and Pentecostal churches today–including abuse, showmanship, manipulation, and infatuation with prosperity. With extraordinary insight and godly discernment he shows how these problems have led to a watered-down spirituality.
“We have turned the holy fire of God into a circus sideshow,” he says. “But when the music stops, the TV cameras are turned off and the money is counted, what do we have?”
Yet his message is not one of condemnation and finger-pointing. Instead Grady challenges all who call themselves Spirit-empowered Christians to return to their biblical roots. He offers hope, help, and a passion for recapturing the authenticity, power, and integrity of true spirituality.
“There is surely fresh fire available to us today,” he says. “If we would reject our misguided mysticism and smug elitism, and renounce our bizarre infatuation with money and success, I believe our churches would catch fire with holy zeal.”
“The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale” includes strategies for developing healthy leaders as well as helpful guidelines for accountability structures. Grady also shares numerous examples of previous revivals in history and insights from his own ministry trips to Africa, Asia and Latin America. Compelled by his great love for God and His Church, Grady gives a straightforward and ultimately affirming message that is a must-read for leaders, insiders, and seekers alike.
Praise for “The Holy Spirit is Not For Sale”
“I could not put this book down. It is compulsive reading. This book could be a turning point for the charismatic movement.” — Dr. R. T. Kendall, former minister, Westminster Chapel (London); bestselling author, “Total Forgiveness” (from the foreword)
“No more discerning voice speaks with such clarity and compassion as Lee Grady’s. Today’s Church needs not only to hear but to heed the wisdom set forth of this book.” — Jack Hayford, chancellor, The King’s College & Seminary; founding pastor, The Church On The Way
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
J. Lee Grady is an author, award-winning journalist, and ordained minister. He serves as a contributing editor of Charisma magazine, one of America’s most widely distributed evangelical Christian publications, and as editor of Experience, the magazine of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church. His “Fire in My Bones” column is distributed to thousands around the world. The author of three books, Lee is also the founder of The Mordecai Project, a ministry aimed at confronting the abuse of women around the world. His preaching ministry has taken him to 24 nations. He has been interviewed by numerous media outlets, including “TIME”, “The New York Times”, and “Christianity Today.” He and his family live near Orlando, Florida.
The Holy Spirit Is Not for Sale: Rekindling the Power of God in an Age of Compromise
by J. Lee Grady
To speak the word “regain” is to state that the subject in view had previously been realized. In this case, the blind man asked to “regain” his sight. He wanted to get back that which he previously had. I believe that many modern American Christians are backslidden. Backslidden, meaning, they have lost the sight that they once possessed. They have lost their sight of their life mission, their conviction of sin and their revelation of Jesus.
They have lost their view on the life mission given to us by Christ Himself to, “speak out the great message of the cross of Christ.” They have definitely not “pledged their heads to heaven.” Nor have they laid their lives down as true disciples saying, “my life for the gospel.”
They have slipped away from their conviction of sin. They say things like, “I wasn’t as mature in God as I am now.” But as Isaiah stated, “they have lost the power to blush over their sins.”
Their sight of Jesus is so limited that they are in desperate need for God to repair their view of Him. For it is only in an accurate view of Jesus that we can have an accurate view of holiness, purity, love, power, God and His Kingdom.
Modern Christians have a greater knowledge of Hollywood than of Christ Himself. They have set up their home to revolve around a flat screen t.v., instead of setting up their lives to revolve around Jesus. They have a greater sight for themselves than Christ. As Keith Green stated, “It is so hard to see when my eyes are on me.” The only true and valuable sight is the seeing of Jesus. Backsliders need their view of Christ restored. All issues in life return to vision, namely, the vision of Jesus. Not necessarily what He would do, but what He is doing. It is knowing His heart beat. It is an issue of knowing Him, right now. Not in the past, or recent past, but today. Do you see Him today? Backslider regain your sight! All issues of seeing are summed up in a seeing of Jesus. If there is no seeing of Jesus there simply is no seeing. No matter the intellect and glory of man, men are blind till they see Jesus.
In this blind man’s state, he heard the commotion of Jesus and asked other people what was going on. The blind backslidden Christian is a person who must look to others for sight. So many Christians today are looking to a book, a minister, ministry or church to open their eyes. They look to men for guidance. They cannot see rightly, so they have no other option. Praise God these people pointed him to Jesus saying, “It is Jesus passing by.”
This blind man wanted his sight back. He had the sense to notice it is gone. I pray we would see our deficiency, for we are in a bad way if we lose sight of that. Look at the heart of this blind man after seeing his deficiency…He cries out to Jesus. A cry that comes from a revelation of our deficiency will be sincere and deep. Oh for deep cries that go out to the deep of God!
The people around him tried to silence him. Know this dear reader, if you are blind and backslidden lacking what you once had in God, the whole world is seeking to silence your cry to God. Worldly satisfactions are trying to bring you to a place of contentment with your blindness. Lots of Christian things are trying to make you content with blindness and compromise. Many complacent friends are indirectly seeking to silence your cry. But you must not listen! You must, like this blind man, push through and cry out to God for a restoration of what you know is available, the sight of a living Jesus.
After this blind man pushed through and refused to listen to the silencers, he met Jesus. He was brought into Christ’s presence and Jesus spoke to him. This is the only place of restoration, the only place of life; The experience of His presence and the hearing of His voice. He was then, and only then, healed. Nothing else will heal you. He received his sight back and he began to follow the Lord. As he was glorifying God he was made a spectacle to everyone. If we are to be a testimony to the world, it is only as we glorify God with our lives by following Jesus, because we see Him. Oh reader, do you see Him!? Do you see Him now? Or are you lost, blind and clueless as to what has happened to you? Are you wondering how you got to where you are now in life? Do you look back and say, “where did I get off?” Brother, I will tell you where you got off. You took your eyes off of Jesus and you lost your sight, for just as He is the only seeing, He is the only sustaining of sight.
Oh blind one, who cannot see, my heart breaks for you, as I know the Lord’s does…all out to Him! If you cannot see like you used to and you have taken your eyes off of Jesus…cry out to Him! If in the name of liberty you have opened the door to lesser lovers…cry out to Him! If you are not more in love with Him now than ever…cry out to Him! If you know you are distant and you know something is between you and God…call out to Him! Maybe as you read this, you contrasted your hunger now with your hunger in the past, and have come up sadly lacking…call out to Him! Do not let anything silence you. He will take you into His presence, speak to you and you will see Him again. At this point and no other can you begin to follow Him rightly.
Reader, look deep within. Are you blind today? I am not asking you if you know the bible, go to church or profess Christ. I am asking you…”have you lost your sight?”
Psalms 51:10 “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”
David was one man personally and intimately aware of the deep darkness that lurks within the human heart. He had, himself, sunk to depths of depravity he would have never thought possible as a harp playing, shepherd boy. But situations, opportunities and regal power had brought to the surface the gruesome reality of the human heart condition.
When Jeremiah said, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9) he spoke like an insurance adjuster who writes off a damaged vehicle as a total loss. There seemed to be no hope for salvaging some good thing in it. Paul declared, “I know that nothing good lives in me”. And in Psalms reads, “All have turned aside, they have together become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one”.
I used to think that when David prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God…” he was asking God to clean his heart. Suddenly I realized that I had been reading it all wrong! David is not asking God to clean his heart, but rather to create a new clean heart…one that will replace the hopeless, desperate, unmitigated disaster he was born with. David wastes no time asking God to heal his old diseased heart. Instead he asks for a new one…a clean one. Such a thing, only God could create.
Spurgeon said, “Human nature is too far gone ever to be mended. It is not a house that is a little out of repair, with here and there a slate blown from the roof, and here and there a piece of plaster broken down from the ceiling. No, it is rotten throughout, the very foundations have been sapped; there is not a single timber in it which has not been eaten by the worm, from its uppermost roof to its lowest foundation; there is no soundness in it; it is all rottenness and ready to fall. God doth not attempt to mend, he does not shore up the walls, and re-paint the door; he does not garnish and beautify, but he determines that the old house shall be entirely swept away, and that he will build a new one.”
David’s words, “Create in me…” conjure eerie images of the pre-adamic earth. A bottomless soup of boiling bedlam reigning unchallenged for untold eons. The thick darkness and horrifying chaos seemed impenetrable. “The earth was without form and an empty waste, and darkness was upon the face of the very great deep…” Then God spoke and His word created order out of disorder, light out of darkness, beauty out of chaos and life out of extinction.
David, like the primordial earth, needed more than a good washing. He cried out to God to give him a heart transplant; to vanquish the old peutrifying horror and create in its place a new heart, as fresh as Eden’s first morning. Unfortunately for David, this was impossible in his day. In fact it is as though you can hear his perpetual frustration in his writings as he struggled throughout his life with that old troublesome heart.
But what a privilege is ours! Today, through Christ, a new heart is available to whosoever will. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17) It is a wonderful mystery; the greatest “creative miracle” possible.
As a college student I had a job working for Wal-Mart. For those of you who live outside the USA, it is a chain of massive discount department retailers. It is the largest private employer in America and the largest corporation in the world…and for good reason. Whatever may be said of their imperialist business model, Wal-Mart knows how to treat its customers. While I was working there, someone walked up to the customer service counter with an old garden hose, weathered and worn, apparently years old. They claimed to have purchased it at Wal-Mart but had no receipt and now wanted a new one. At any other store this would be utterly unthinkable, but at Wal-Mart the customer got a replacement, because his satisfaction was more valuable than the price of a hose. He walked in with an arm-full of worthless rubber and walked out with a brand new garden hose.
Wal-Mart may be generous, but there is someone more generous still. When we come before God with our worthless, hopeless, helpless hearts, He is willing to accept them. He doesn’t patch up that old rubber hose of our hearts. Instead he offers us a brand new one; fresh and clean. Now that’s a great exchange.
“A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.”—Ezekiel 36:26.
Liberty Counsel is asking youth around the nation to participate in the annual Day of Purity on February 14th. According to their website:
The Day of Purity is a day when youth can make a public demonstration of their commitment to remain secularly pure, in mind and actions. Today’s culture encourages youth to become sexually active at a young age and to experiment with sexual preferences. The Day of Purity offers those who strive for sexual purity an opportunity to stand together in opposition to a culture of moral decline. When you stand up for sexual purity you send a message to parents, churches, communities, legislators, and the media that you want a better world. Now is the time to let your voices be heard. Be a part of the “counter-culture” – – be politically incorrect. It’s time for a change. You can make a difference.
In part of an answer to the question “Why a Day of Purity?”, Liberty Counsel had this to say:
“The fear of the religious right is that the schools of today will be the governments of tomorrow. And you know, they are right. If we do our jobs right, we’re going to raise a generation of kids who don’t believe the claims of the religious right.”
–1999 GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network)
One freshman health text told students that “Testing your ability to function sexually and give pleasure to another person may be less threatening in your early teens with people of your own sex. . . . You may come to the conclusion that growing up means rejecting the values of your parents.” (emphasis added). A school survey in another district asked students what “caused” their heterosexuality, and whether they were heterosexual because they “feared” the same sex. PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) tells young students that “one or two sexual experiences with someone of the same sex may not mean you’re gay. . . . Your school years are a time of figuring out what works for you, and crushes and experimentation are often part of that.” In fact, the push to experiment at a young age has led to a nationwide phenomena among teen girls known as “bisexual chic” – declaring themselves bisexual for attention and because it’s cool. Experimenting with sexuality may be seen as “cool” but what’s not cool, and in fact, not even discussed, are the devastating consequences of sexual activity outside of marriage.
All questions regarding the positive and negative attributes of the so-called “religious right” aside, it is clear from what GLSEN and PFLAG are trying to accomplish, that their effort to keep youth with same-sex attraction safe from bullying has ventured into territory that they have do not have the moral authority to tackle. We pray that the Day of Purity and other attempts to show the world that purity is beautiful and valuable succeed in their attempts to do so.
Recently, one major Christan magazine editor mockingly spoke of the church’s “holiness heritage kick[ing] in” after someone comes to faith in Jesus because of the church being “deathly afraid of cheap grace.” In contrast, another editor rebuked the church for “reject[ing] biblical discipline and adopt[ing] a sweet, spineless love that cannot correct,” declaring that the church’s “grace is greasy.”
When a professing Christian beauty contestant answered a question about same-sex marriage, conservative Christian universities and ministries welcomed her with open arms, even offering her scholarships and award presentation opportunities, while a liberal gay activist rebuked those organizations saying, “I’m not sure why conservative Christians would be so anxious to align their movement with a young woman whose sole claim to fame is to walk her fake breasts down a runway hoping that her appeal to vanity and lust will result in adoration and personal gain.”
A regrettable “holiness heritage”? Greasy grace? Conservatives promoting bikini-clad models? Liberals rebuking the church for embracing “vanity and lust”? What is a follower of Jesus to do in this confusing landscape of ideas?
It would be a massive undertaking to analyze in depth the subject of God’s holiness and how we as His chosen people are to order our hearts and lives in relation to His holiness. In this special issue of Voice of Revolution, however, we are continuing the dialogue by attempting to look at the subject from various perspectives.