When it is Better Not to Believe in Jesus
We read in John 1:10-11: “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”
And yet we see in John chapter 6 how a vast multitude of Jews did indeed want Jesus to be their king and also followed Him a great distance in order to try to obtain various natural benefits from Him. So the Jews rejected Jesus as their king- and yet they wanted Him to be their king. Is that a contradiction? No! How is that possible?
John 18:33-37: “Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.”
Jesus’ kingdom is anchored in truth. To have an interest in His saving reign we must be anchored in the truth of His Word. And yet many, not only in the 1st century, but in every generation, including today, want to believe in Jesus in a way that is instead compatible to their own desires and perhaps even believe that they are indeed anchored in the truth of His Word when that is simply not so, having instead a counterfeit faith (which might even sometimes look a lot like the genuine). Hence the title of this message “When it is Better Not to Believe in Jesus.”
First, here are some controversial verses from later in John chapter 6 which, in their context, are Jesus saying that people can only come to Him acceptably on the basis of truth. These verses are not teaching, like some teach, that God irresistibly draws some people to faith in Jesus while closing the door for everyone else.
John 6:41-45: “The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.”
So the message is that if there is light from Creation and light from God’s Word that we are blinding our eyes to, or we don’t really want to be led into all the light of truth from God’s Word, then don’t even bother coming to (the real) Jesus. Only come to Jesus when you are surrendering to knowing and walking in the truth of His Word- otherwise don’t bother coming at all.
Remember that right in John’s Gospel, even in the previous chapter which is only two scenes back in John’s Gospel from the verses we just read in John chapter 6, Jesus said the same thing in other words to a group with similar objections to Him and similar hindrances to faith in Him.
John 5:37-47: “And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape. And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. I receive not honor from men. But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you. I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, which receive honor one of another, and seek not the honor that cometh from God only? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?”
Receiving God’s testimony from the heart is incompatible with esteeming the things of the world which carnal men value, take pride in, and exalt. Luke 16:15: “And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” The faithful Christian mindset, the Apostolic mindset, takes great care not to mix Christ’s gospel with such things (see also 1 Corinthians 1:21 to 1 Corinthians 2:5 along these lines).
And also along these lines, we read the following about Jesus Christ in Isaiah 53:1-6: “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Yet to the small percentage of Israelites who supremely valued redemption from sin and restoration to God’s image (more than deliverance from the Romans, earthly prosperity, and anything or anyone else) to these there was indeed beauty in Jesus that they should desire Him. When Paul went to synagogues preaching Christ he was persuading those he preached to, from the Law of Moses and the Prophets, to alter their values to what they ought to be. Paul didn’t seek to persuade people to believe in Jesus by being an impressive orator, by theatrics, by sounding more intellectual than he needed to sound, or by intimidation through the strength of his personality. He rather persuaded by rightly dividing Scripture to show those values which the Law and the Prophets testified that people ought to have (then and now the Jews were corrupted by a prosperity gospel, similar to how much of Christendom is corrupted now by a prosperity gospel- more on that soon); and by proving that Jesus is the Christ foretold in the Scriptures who fulfills the hope which corresponds to, or is in tune with, those proper values.
Consider how different then the true gospel is, the one which the Scriptures taken in context and as a whole preaches, compared to the common “Just accept Jesus; yeah, I believe in Jesus” gospel! Utterly turning from sin and surrendering to Christ in brokenness unto the crucifixion of your carnality and all your heathen ways, unto the constraints and sufferings of Biblical holiness, is something that assenting to the facts about Christ, the altar calls, the sinner’s prayers (and the other things we’re going to get to) can still leave a person short of- often short of by a vast distance. And actually, they can leave a person much worse off when they think that such is actually salvation (there is no need to seek any further then and there is certainly no need then to suffer to pursue truth and righteousness wholeheartedly).
Churches today are filled with people who have made a profession of faith in Christ which isn’t Biblically authentic because they have been taught an incomplete gospel that is false, at the very least because they were not taught it in a way that confronted their heathen values. The essentially false gospel they were taught allowed for salvation for those who were not successfully alienated from their heathen values. There was likely not even a good attempt to even expose those and demonstrate how abominable they are before God.
Acts 24:24-27: “And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him. But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.”
And so we see in the case of Paul with Felix that when a faithful preacher with godly discernment and sound wisdom has a chance to talk in detail with someone, there will be a confrontation between the truth of God and any and all lusts of the world which reign in their heart. We even see in the case of Herod before John the Baptist that one can greatly respect the godly witness before them and modify their life in the right direction to a great extent- and yet still ultimately harden their heart, come short of true repentance, and even kill the godly witness whom they had respected. In Herod’s case it sure had to do with holding onto lasciviousness and valuing the honor of men over the honor that comes from God alone.
Mark 6:20–24: “For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly. And when a convenient day was come, that Herod on his birthday made a supper to his lords, high captains, and chief estates of Galilee; And when the daughter of the said Herodias came in, and danced, and pleased Herod and them that sat with him, the king said unto the damsel, Ask of me whatsoever thou wilt, and I will give it thee. And he sware unto her, Whatsoever thou shalt ask of me, I will give it thee, unto the half of my kingdom. And she went forth, and said unto her mother, What shall I ask? And she said, The head of John the Baptist.” And we know that Herod complied and had John killed.
A person can even have a desire for eternal life, one that is strong and intense, and they can go to the perfect witness, the Great Physician Himself, who deals with them in a way that is suited to their individual need with absolute perfection- and yet still walk away from Him without eternal life! That is exactly what happened in the case of the Rich Young Ruler. There was a rival god in his life that he was attached to which Jesus pointed out and didn’t relent over, even though this young man was overall a much more moral, decent man than Felix and Herod were. We know that this young man walked away from Jesus sorry because Jesus would not relent in allowing rivalry to Him in the man’s life; and the young man was not willing at the moment to cut off the rival in order to walk in the Way of Truth that is in Jesus Christ which is the only way to obtain and inherit the eternal life which he craved so badly even though he did not value it supremely (at least yet) due to the rival god of riches in his life (see Mark 10:17-23).
Jesus didn’t chase this young man. It’s good, if you are any type of professed Christian evangelist or preacher in any capacity, to ask yourself if you are comfortable letting someone walk away sorry, even someone who a minute before seemed like such a promising evangelistic prospect. Many who could not let such a man walk also likely preach a gospel of easy-believism, cheap grace, and believe in Once Saved Always Saved heresy too.
The following was only spoken to people in the context of being fed up with sin prevailing in them so that they would be willing to take Jesus’ yoke upon them (and hence renouncing their own personal sovereignty or autonomy in order to be saved from the guilt and power of sin).
Matthew 11:27-30: “All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Sin reigns when the conflict between man’s will and God’s is not properly settled by genuine repentance towards God. This invitation then is only for those who are ready to end this conflict. And I think it’s fair to say that this exhortation is also given to help persuade people of this conflict’s existence in them and their blessedness if they will break in repentance towards God and cooperate with His prescribed remedy who is the Lord Jesus Himself. It is not meant to be given as an emotional appeal to satisfy the natural man (as if this conflict with God didn’t exist or could be looked over) nor is it given as a means to bring man to salvation in Christ without this conflict being dealt with according to the symbolically bloody prescription of God’s Word.
We read in Genesis 3:22-24: “And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.”
The flaming sword guarding the tree of life signified the horrible death which the Seed of the woman would have to die in order to open the way for humans to one day eat of the tree of life; and it also signifies the symbolically bloody death to self and sin which any who would have a part with the Messiah would have to die, in identification with Him, in order to partake of His redemption. That is the only way to actualize His redemption, to have a part with Him in crushing the serpent’s head, and to one day eat of the tree of life through Him. For all we know, the tree of life was destroyed during the flood in Noah’s time. Yet we see it at the end of time, resurrected and freely available to those who properly valued, esteemed, and appropriated the Messiah’s mission of righteously redeeming men and bringing them back under God’s authority. In that context, and no other context at all, God’s image is restored in them; and they are restored to Paradise.
Hebrews 2:9: “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”
Ephesians 5:23-27: “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
Heeding His instruction in all things is not self-atonement nor seeking to work your way into God’s favor somehow neither is it man’s own attempt to please God. It is God’s own prescription, in light of who Christ is and what He has done, for man to walk by a living faith in Christ in order actualize His redemption in them, to have a part with Him in crushing the serpent’s head, and to one day eat of the tree of life through Him.
Romans 6:8-11: “Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:
Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Those who deny Lordship salvation are surely servants of Satan then who are doing his bidding.
Revelation 12:11: “And they overcame him (i.e. the serpent/the devil) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
Revelation 22:14: “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”
The pure Gospel of Christ confronts the wrong and misplaced values of men, while offering the provisions for the things pertaining to God which have eternal implications that we ought to value. If the pure Word of God being testified to a person’s heart and mind does not persuade them to commit themselves wholly to Jesus Christ and to live by His Word, then it’s not only useless, but also potentially deceptive and destructive, to try to bring about belief in Christ in an alternative way.
If you are trying to evangelize and authentically help lead people to Christ, beware of doing altar calls and causing other situations which might cause people to make a profession of Christ due to not wanting to look bad before you or before others at the meeting. People also shouldn’t be confronted to repent in a way that they feel ganged up on or intimidated by a strong personality. It is better for a meeting to end with no new converts to report, and no great accomplishments to report at all, than to extract professions of Christ, and other notable decisions for God’s kingdom, by methods like those described in the previous points. Much might have been accomplished in God’s eyes at the meeting anyways; and that’s all that ultimately matters. One key accomplishment in every meeting should be that those who held the meeting stayed faithful, kept the lines where they ought to be, and felt no need to impress anyone by manipulating things to get supposed results to impress others or feel better about themselves. It is not wrong to challenge people to confess Christ and to stand for Him in a public way, but this should be connected to being baptized as His disciple who is committed to obeying all of His instruction. Whenever possible, baptism should be connected with membership in a church that is seeking to be under the authority of God’s Word.
Counterfeit faith in Jesus is produced in multitudes through so-called faith healers and others who teach that Christians are promised bodily healing in this life through Christ’s atonement. This supposed promise may seem to exalt the power of the Gospel, yet in reality it subverts those influenced by this concept from the actual goals and promises of Christ’s Gospel. It also is a subtle attack on the validity of the Christian faith itself, since the entire foundation of Christianity would be shaken if any aspect of it were proven to be invalid. By regarding bodily healing as something guaranteed through faith in the promises of God in Christ, it is only logical that Christianity would be false if anyone with faith in Christ was in poor bodily health.
Though Jesus healed on earth to demonstrate His true identity and to encourage others to believe in Him as the Christ, the Son of God, He also never promised that everyone who truly believes in Him will be in good health. His own Apostles, who wrote the Gospels, as well as the rest of the New Testament, experienced prolonged sickness and saw prolonged sickness in their faithful Christian co-laborers. They didn’t miraculously heal all these illnesses, nor claim healing for them, as if that were some guarantee for anyone with faith.
Note in Philippians 2:25-27 that Epaphroditus indeed was sick near to death. According to some healing in the atonement people, he should have confessed that he was never really sick at all. And according to all the healing in the atonement people, he should at least have immediately claimed healing- thus he would not have remained sick for any significant length of time like he did.
2 Timothy 4:20: “Erastus abode at Corinth: but Trophimus have I left at Miletum sick.”
It sounds like the Apostle Paul considered sickness a normal thing for a Christian- as if Christians, even genuine, faithful ones who believe and follow what the Bible actually teaches, are actually still subject to the pains, toil, and hardships of life. And that is because they are! In the resurrection, if they continue in a living, obedient faith in Christ until the end (Matthew 24:13), they will inherit the glory of God’s kingdom in a redeemed, perfectly whole, incorruptible body. Then; not here and now.
What about 1 Peter 2:24? “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”
Is the context here bodily healing or another type of healing? Consider the verse of 1 Peter 2:24 itself. The healing he is speaking of is described right in that verse. Christ bore our sins on the cross that we should be dead to sins and live unto righteousness. The Christians whom he was writing to had already known this in reality by their reconciliation to God through Christ (which is alluded to in the next verse, 1 Peter 2:25). What type of healing could be more important than this? Was Peter somehow writing about another type of healing? Consider also the context of the verse within the epistles of Peter. Peter writes nothing in his epistles regarding how Christians should be free from bodily infirmities. His focus is on following Christ in faith unto righteous living, even and especially when this is not beneficial to one’s earthly interests. He even makes clear that having a righteous Christian walk of faith is something which could very well result in rejection and even more suffering.
The warning given earlier in 2 Timothy about a certain prevalent vain and profane babbling going around in the first century applies very well to the healing in the atonement teachers who say that faithful Christians should never be sick or physically damaged in any way. This profane and vain babbling also applies very well to the Once Saved Always Saved teachers who teach that eternal life in its fullness is a Christian’s possession from the moment they are born-again and that they can never lose it between now and the resurrection.
2 Timothy 2:16-18: “But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.”
Fake faith healers have bilked the naive out of unspeakable amounts of money and misled multitudes, this doctrine being foundational to their scam. Sick and injured people are tormented by these thieves who preach a misguided, counterfeit faith in Jesus. Their methods of getting mildly and moderately ill people, as well as mildly and moderately disabled people, to briefly think they have been healed through hypnosis, other psychological techniques, and subtle tricks have been well documented. Many others are hassled, given false hope, and brought further despair by the Bible twisting and naive prayers of their followers who lay hands on them and pray to claim their healing. And then the sick or injured person usually gets blamed when they turn out to not actually be healed! All of this stems from a lie implying that Christians ought to have the benefits of a blessed resurrection- before the resurrection.
Counterfeit faith in Jesus is also produced in many through the prosperity gospel preachers (which are often healing preachers too- logically the two would always be connected, though occasionally they may not be). Multitudes upon multitudes listen to these, as proven by how prosperity preachers like Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer, T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Paula White etc are among the most popular preachers altogether today. Their doctrine is deadly poison and they rob multitudes of eternal life. Though people follow them for a reason and are guilty to some degree for doing so, these deceivers mix truth with error and confuse multitudes, they scam, destroy, wound, and ultimately leave those who follow them spiritually dead despite invoking Jesus with their lips and falsely attributing their wicked folly to the pure wisdom of His Word.
Yet Jesus warned that it is impossible to faithfully serve God and mammon at the same time (Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13). His Word also warns about how the double minded are unstable in all their ways and cannot be in fellowship with God in their double minded state (James 1:5-8). This makes it clear that the pursuit of mammon and the pursuit of the true God are rival pursuits. Though there are some who do not pursue either with much diligence at all, there will surely be enmity in pursuing both. And despite that, we need to live in a world where we need to use money and material possessions. Jesus didn’t teach against obtaining money nor rebuke any and all financial success. He rather taught a value system- a value system at odds with the heathen values of the world. As the Apostle Paul warned of the danger of setting one’s heart upon becoming rich, he emphasizes how that pursuit is incompatible with the pursuit of genuine godliness. And he proceeds these things with a rebuke to, and a very harsh description of, those who equate Christianity with the gain of mammon (1 Timothy 6:3-10).
And extremely closely related to the health and wealth gospels, counterfeit faith in Jesus is also produced by pre-tribulation rapture belief regarding the end-times. I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect that every honest person who studies the Bible will necessarily see the timeline of the end-times exactly the same. Yet it’s a deadly error to believe that God will rescue Christians from having to go through great tribulation, whether that be in the very final years before Christ returns or any other time. Therefore it’s not hard to see that pre-tribulation rapture belief is usually accompanied by a shallow gospel which tells people they can accept Christ as their Savior, yet not require and insist that He be obeyed as Lord and followed in all things that His Word teaches. Such a gospel is false, as well any gospel which doesn’t teach the inevitably of suffering in order to faithfully do this. These evil doctrines produce Judases which betray Jesus with a kiss as opportunity for unrighteous gain presents itself; and produce people like the Roman soldiers who bow to Jesus with their knees while going about to crucify Him in the hour of trial. Pre-tribulation belief also goes nearly, if not altogether, hand in hand with a lawless gospel and unconditional eternal security/once saved always saved heresy. Pre-tribulation teachers typically don’t teach the need to be faithful unto death for Christ’s sake. How could they logically do so? Who could do this when their belief about God’s ways makes it necessary that God would rescue Christians from having to face great tribulation? The widespread belief in the pre-tribulation rapture may very well be more of a symptom of some form of a false, easy-believism gospel, as well as the overall disregard within Christendom of what the Bible actually says. It is also heavily related to the false gospels of health and prosperity, which abound en masse. Just (supposedly) have faith and God will take away your sicknesses, your problems, and give you your best life now until He takes you to heaven.
Counterfeit faith in Jesus is also produced through the influence of the common fake long hair hippie jesus image. Even though many acknowledge that the image whereby Jesus is commonly portrayed in modern times must be false for obvious reasons, the modern churches and the entertainment industry seem to be the slowest to get this. That must have something to do with how the soft, effeminate man with long hair is much more compatible with the evils listed hitherto than a holy, masculine 1st century Jewish man with short hair. The modern jesus is an idol and a counterfeit of the real Jesus. We are warned in Scripture to be aware of fake jesuses and not to bear with them (2 Cor 11:3-4). Having a salvation that is real, and no counterfeit, comes only by believing in and obediently following the true Jesus of the Bible who is “the true God, and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20b) We are commanded in the Bible not to make a likeness (image) of God according to man’s corrupt understanding. That is idolatry. Since Jesus Christ is God who came in the flesh (John 1:1-5, 14) any “guesses” at how He would have looked in the flesh are idolatry. The media’s typical depiction of Jesus is influenced by how Pagan gods were typically portrayed in art, along with attempts throughout history to make “jesus” popular to the masses (obviously counterfeits of the real Jesus, sometimes made by greedy people hoping to make a profit). The media’s typical depiction of Jesus is certainly not influenced by the Word of God nor permitted by the Word of God. The glory of Jesus Christ’s character and His awesome authority as the King of mankind CANNOT be adequately represented by any actor or any artist. Scrap the “media jesus” from your mind completely. It is a shallow, cheap, pathetic counterfeit of the real Jesus.
Counterfeit faith in Jesus is also commonly produced by things related to the curse of emotionalism. By emotionalism, I mean “undue indulgence in or (undue) display of emotion.“ Emotionalism is essentially Pagan. Emotionalism is actually foundational to many Pagan religions, since often emotionalism and Pagans religions can be blended without compromising the principles of either. This can be seen with the Prophets of Baal in 1 Kings chapter 18, as they sought the false god Baal to prove himself and bring fire down on their offering which they made to him at Mount Carmel. Pursuing emotional experience is a way of the heathen, whether it is labeled as Christian or not. But when an emotional experience is labeled as Christian, people are surely deceived into thinking they are experiencing God, when they are in truth experiencing the same thing (or worse) than what people get at secular concerts, sporting events, game shows, political rallies (and political rallies are places where emotional manipulation through rhetoric, lighting, music, etc is the rule (and that’s true whether the candidate is on the political right or the left by the way)- and also through things like romance novels and in many other ways.
Music in churches is often consciously calculated to move people’s emotions in a certain way. Pre-planned emotional movements of a church congregation through the means of song selection, methods of preaching sermons, lighting, decorations, and/or other ways are manipulative and a curse to those who are affected by such. This problem of the infiltration of emotionalism into Christendom is especially common in mega-churches. A few of the most glaring examples are the extremely popular Bethel-Redding church (and its associates) and the Hillsong churches (and their associate churches). This infiltration of emotionalism is actually inherent in any church affected much by the Purpose Driven Church/Seeker Sensitive movement. Of course, churches which are not giant in size nor wearing the Purpose Driven/Seeker Sensitive label can also be guilty of this.
Music (and preaching as well), when employed to honor God and not calculated to appeal primarily to man’s feelings, can be a powerful tool to aid people in praising and worshiping God- and also might perhaps generate emotional experiences in people hearing it- as a by-product. Music might also be selected to reflect healthy emotions related to commonly known circumstances which are greatly affecting many in the congregation. That is not wrong. Yet when the music (and the same goes for the sermon) is written or selected to deliberately alter man’s psyche in any given way, then it is controlling, manipulative, and used for evil ends. It is a strange fire, the type of thing which God killed people in the Bible for (Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus chapter 10). And willing compliance with such is a sensual action, not a spiritual one.
Environments where this strange fire is offered confuse the simple, as they are taught to label their altered emotional states as “the presence of God.” Such environments also often can tempt and provoke people to put on an act to fit in with, and conform to, whatever heightened emotional state the congregation is being pressured to conform to. Environments where this strange fire flourishes are inherently affected by evil and beget further evil. Those who don’t want to provoke God to wrath should have no part in such environments. And those who don’t want to provoke God should be sure not to copy the methods that are employed in such environments nor to operate on the principles which these are operating on and seek to drive others by.
Emotionalism does not hold up when one is actually faced with the real life demands of true Christianity. The pursuit of emotional experiences, operating upon hype, and the general leading of emotion don’t lead to the walk of righteousness, and consistent faithfulness, which we need to have to please God and inherit salvation. Thinking that emotionally moving music and hype which humans generate can bring a person to a righteous faith in Christ, like Zaccheus came to (in Luke 19), is ridiculous and produces counterfeit faith in Christ in multitudes. Those who resort to emotionalism lack real wisdom and power from God.
Are you committed to being a faithful subject to His reign, pursuing and following the truth of His Word unto not loving your life to the death? You can be excited about Jesus in many ways, but still not have this. In John chapter 2 we read how many people were excited about Jesus, yet Jesus did not commit Himself unto them, because He knew what was in man. Make sure your faith in Christ is something which will hold up, causing you to trust God and work righteousness before Him according to His Word, in the darkest, loneliest, and most trying hour.
Reach brother Aaron at: [email protected]