He Is Risen, He Is Alive

“Hey, get a load of this guy he hears God!” And the leering speaker twirls his finger around his ear indicating insanity.

Isn’t this the reaction that you would expect to get if you were to tell someone on the street that God told you something? Often, even church people react this way. The attitude that is illustrated here is the culmination of four centuries of propaganda, the reformation may have brought us freedom from the Roman Catholic church’s abuses, but it bore other offspring. For my RC friends, I am speaking of the things I definitely have problems with, the adoration of Mary, the authority of the Pope, the celibacy of the priesthood, priests defined as being spiritually superior to lay persons, and of course the former practice of the selling of indulgences.

When Luther and Calvin and Zwingli made their breaks with the Roman Catholic communion they made another decision which still affects us today. They decided that the abuses of the Roman Catholic church were uniformly bad and they lumped most of the practices of the Catholics together as suspect. The battle cry “Sola Scriptura” a reference to only scripture as the basis for our Spiritual lives had a bee in the midst of the rose. While breaking away from the Traditions (with a capital “T”) of the Roman church and translating the Scriptures into the common languages to make them accessible to anyone who could read were without doubt tremendous blessings, there are other fruits of the reformation which bear looking at.

The bee in the rose which has come back to sting us is the idea that we can know the whole truth of Scripture through scholarship, that we can intellectually comprehend God.
Now to be fair this was not the attitude of every reformer, but the die had been cast and the general attitude of Protestantism was that of an intellectually based scholasticism. This was not a new idea, there had been factions in the Roman Catholic church which advocated the intellectual approach, but dependence on the intellect became one of the defining marks of the Reformation. It spawned many seeming benefits in Europe and new universities began to spring up with this little bit of watering. To be sure the Roman Catholic church had helped the earlier universities get their start, often to train priests. During the Middle Ages and even well past the Renaissance all educated men learned Latin, it was the Lingua Franca of the educated classes, that is doctors, lawyers, and royal advisors (Kings in the Middle Ages did not always learn to read). Indeed the leaders of the reformation were all educated men who knew Latin and participated in the scholarly discourse of the day. Since the vast majority of Protestant leaders were scholars it was second nature for them to promote a scholarly regimen for all leaders in the new churches and to concentrate on the arguments which helped define their theology.

Yet over the centuries a few in both the Catholic and the Protestant communions sought for more. They sought Jesus on their knees and in their hearts. You see the problem with scholarly toil and achievement is that it tends to push away the Spiritual aspect of life in Christ. Under the scholastic culture just about all of the important matters in a Christian’s life were reduced to the “essentials” or to put it bluntly the rituals of christian culture, they were baptized, confirmed, and buried in the church, and that made everything alright in their view.

Many, many people over the centuries and in our own day have keenly felt the lack of Spiritual contact with God. When they question the status quo they are almost always treated as outsiders by the leaders of cultural christianity.
Nevertheless those who seek Him often find Him.
Despite excommunication, jail time, public humiliation, and yes, even execution, there have been many who have managed to find and walk with Jesus in spite of all the things which this world’s religious organizations can throw at them.

The reason that they are persecuted by christian institutions is quite simple, the religious leaders assume that if they can’t hear God, then no one else really can either (there is a whole, pride, misplaced spiritual authority thing here that I can not go into in this post, more to come). Therefore they think anyone who claims to hear God must be off his or her nut. Fortunately, God isn’t influenced by what the worldly leaders think.

So in modern times we have people in the church culture who are influenced by the attitude of the world around them. I remember when I was a tyke, a Sunday school teacher told us about Moses or Abraham and said something like “Now God doesn’t speak to us these days the way He did to Moses or Abraham.”
Now upon what authority is this taught? And no I don’t accept the “when that which is perfect is come” (1 Cor. 13:10) as an answer to this matter.
We see this taught in churches and then they turn around and say something like “that Pastor So-and-so, he really hears God”, after a moving sermon. What? Pastor Thinga-majig can hear Him, but you and I can’t?

I am sorry, but that just doesn’t wash.

There is another facet which the Protestant church shed on its way to prominence. The idea that a man or woman would benefit from withdrawing from the world and being alone with God was seriously down played by the reformation leaders since the monastic system in the Roman Catholic church had been the source of some of the more vivid abuses. Now days if you merely suggest to another christian that you might benefit from staying home on Sundays and spending time alone with the Lord, you will be hit with a lot of attitude and certainly you will hear the quote about not forsaking the “assembling together” Hebrews 10:15-25, some regard it as a command on par with “Love one another as I have loved you”.

Now if we assume that Paul wrote Hebrews, they are quoting a man who spent his first three years as a Christian in Arabia learning directly from the Lord (Galatians 1:15-18) he did not go directly to Jerusalem, the center of the church, he went apart to seek God and learn from Him. Paul of course was not the only one, Jesus spent forty days alone in the wilderness and He went away from the disciples regularly to pray and spend time with the Father. It was a common practice in the early church to go apart for a while to gain a deeper understanding of God to share with the “assembly”.

The Desert Fathers, at least the more sane ones, those not living in holes or on top of columns, believed in drawing apart from the world to be with Jesus, they then felt they had something worthwhile to share. I think that the life of a body of believers would be richer and more deeply Spiritual if it’s members took time and in some cases a considerable time apart to be with the Lord.

People refer to not forsaking the assembling, well what if your pastor is a dud? What if the whole congregation is a bunch of Spiritual dullards? By the way have you heard some of the tripe many ministers teach about the origin and meaning of the Scriptures. I would not trust them to lead anyone to Jesus, because it is obvious that they do not trust that God is Sovereign enough to write and speak to us through the Scriptures. We live in strange times.

So do yourself a favor, the next time you have some personal study time, read some Scripture and then lay it aside and just sit with the Lord. You can pray and ask Him about things, but be sure to take time to sit quietly and listen.
Some folks write out the things which have been bothering them and then ask “What would You like to say to me Lord?” and then write down whatever they hear Him saying to them. This is called two-way journaling, as opposed to one-way prayer.
You know, our God is not only awesome, He is alive and you can hear Him, if you listen. If we learn to seek Him and trust what He is doing with us we will live transforming lives and we will have something to share in the “assembly”.

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4 Comments on “He Is Risen, He Is Alive”

  1. cindyinsd Says:

    Seriously excellent post, David! You should add one of those facebook share thingies (if they have them on the wp site). Going to link this one.

    Thanks!
    Cindy

  2. Nathan Says:

    Thank you for the link and the encouragement Cindy! It really helps me!
    And thanks for reminding me to enable the share thingies too!
    Nathan

    PS Oh, and did I mention that I love comments?
    Thanks for all of your great comments as well!


  3. Linked from Cindy’s FB post… enjoyed your blog post, Nathan. It’s very clear that we have a lot of unlearning to do, eh? And then getting to actually know (experience) Christ… by turning inwardly to fellowship with Him. Good stuff!
    I sense there’s a balance required…. and it’s a bit hard to come to because here in the west we tend towards isolation and independence and an individualistic lifestyle. So when the Lord created us as “social creatures”.. it’s in relationships that the image of Christ is seen.. the manifestation of Christ is seen… that has been distorted by institutional Christianity and their “forsake not your assembling together” misapplication…. we need to balance community / sharing Christ with others with turning inwardly into the Lord who dwells within us. Isn’t it beautiful when we gather with others and He is allowed to be expressed because each one actually has a relationship with Jesus where they are actually hearing HIM ??? His words are spirit and they are life… He is the expression of the Father and like you implied I think the Father wants us to enjoy this LIfe.. this Christ who is the Way of Life. I love how the angel of the Lord appeared to the Apostles when they were in jail and after opening the Lord told them to speak to the people all the words of this life. (Acts 5)

    • Nathan Says:

      Hi Ron and thanks for your great comment. The continual care of the Father for us is really quite remarkable. The biggest lie that was ever foisted upon the church was the idea that only great saints could hear God, and that somehow you had to be “special” or extra holy to be Spiritual. The entire fabric of what the Church was supposed to be fell apart when those who experienced God died or were pushed out by those who cared more for the politics of “church” than for the Spirit of Christ.

      It is a wonderful time we live in when so many people have become so thirsty for God because of the bone dry Institutions, that they will actually get serious and set aside the time and seek Him. He made it clear that He is always ready to respond to those who truly seek Him. Great things will happen in our lives when we have the living presence of Jesus in His people, to bless and to share.

      This is gonna be good!!!


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