Baptist Preachers Who aren’t Ready for Revival by Dr. Rick Flanders

The following article is written by a man I know personally and deeply respect. His messages have impacted my life, I have enjoyed his fellowship, and he has a testimony of faithfulness. The message he is trying to communicate will be misunderstood, probably by the very ones that need this truth. One thing I appreciate about Dr. Flanders is that he always tries to be biblical, honest, and genuine.

One thing I appreciate about Dr. Flanders is that he always tries to be biblical, honest, and genuine. The church needs revival, but it won’t come through the Baptist pulpit because we’re not ready for it. This article is convicting, challenging, and correct. I have highlighted in bold the portions that most interested or resonated with me. Please read with a Spirit-filled heart and mind:

Right, But Not Ready by Dr. Rick Flanders

“And thou shalt take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof: and it shall be holy.” (Exodus 40:9)

The book of Exodus ends with the successful completion of Israel’s great wilderness project: the construction of the Tabernacle.  And they had done it all just right.  The thirty-ninth chapter (next to the last) ends with these words:

“And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the LORD had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them.” (Exodus 39:43)

Then the fortieth chapter begins will the account of the assembling of the Tabernacle worship center.  The tent was set up (vs. 1-2), the ark was put in and the vail hung (v. 3), the table of showbread was set up with the right things put on it (v.4), the candlestick was brought into the tabernacle and its lamps lit (v.5), the incense altar was placed before the ark and the door hung (v. 5), the brazen altar was put before the door (v. 6), the laver full of water was put between the altar and the door (v. 7), and finally the court was set up (v. 8).  In many ways, it was perfect.  Truly it can be said that the Tabernacle in the wilderness with its prescribed rituals was the most perfect object lesson depicting the Person and Work of Jesus Christ ever to be made.  It was just right, but we note as the book comes to a close that the Tabernacle and its ministers were not yet ready.  Something had to be done before ministry at the Tabernacle could begin.

The LORD told Moses that he must “take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein,” and by anointing it with the oil, all of it would be hallowed and holy and useful in the service of God (v. 9).  So he anointed the brazen altar with the oil, and then the rest, and also the priests in their special garments.  The Tabernacle and the priests were not ready until they were anointed.

Of course, anointing with oil was the ritual that symbolized the anointing with the Holy Spirit.  In Old Testament days, men were anointed as they began their service for the Lord.  In the sixty-first chapter of the book of Isaiah the prophet we read

“The Spirit of the LORD is upon me; because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel unto the meek…” (Verse 1)

“…to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for the spirit of heaviness…” (Verses 2 and 3)

The First Book of Samuel tells the story of David, and includes this record,

“Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward.” (Chapter 16, Verse 13)

Throughout the era of the Old Testament economy, anointing oil represented the Spirit of God.  And so Exodus 40 is teaching us that our witness for Christ can be right, perfectly right, while we are not yet ready for ministry.  It is the power of the Holy Spirit that makes even the Gospel effective.  The Word of God is a beneficial sword when it is the “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17), but it is actually dangerous to preach the Word without the ministry of the Spirit, “for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (Second Corinthians 3:6—read Verses 5 through 18 to see the distinctive work of the Spirit in the New Testament ministry).  Often Bible-believing Christians concentrate on being right about every detail of doctrine, while missing the fact that we often are not ready to be used of God.

I want to be right about everything.  I’m not saying I have everything right, but I am saying that I want to have it all right.  Don’t you?  What Christian does not want to please God in every detail?  Our doctrines and practices should all be biblical.

Jesus taught us that every Bible truth is important, but that some teachings are more important than others.

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets:  I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.  For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.  Whosoever therefore shall break one these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:17-19)

Clearly, the “least commandments” of God are important.  None of them are unimportant.  But the fact that Jesus designated some of them as “least” (as opposed to great) indicates that some of His commandments are in some way more important than others.  He told the religious hypocrites that they had been wrong to be so certain to pay tithes, even of “mint, and anise and cummin,” and yet to “have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” (Matthew 23:23).  Some biblical matters are “weightier” than others, but all are important, and none should be left undone, even if least.

Certainly, the weightiest of Bible truths are the cardinal doctrines of the Gospel, the ones essential to the soul’s salvation.  Find them in First Corinthians 15:1-3, where the Gospel itself is defined.  The fundamentals of the Gospel are the authority of the scriptures, the deity of Christ, His blood atonement for our sins, His bodily resurrection from the dead, and salvation by faith in Him.  Without all of these doctrines, you don’t have the Gospel.  Without accepting the Gospel, you are not a Christian. True Christians are sometimes confused about lesser doctrines, but if they deny any of these fundamentals, they are not true Christians. I am a Christian, and affirm the fundamentals of the faith, and rest the security of my eternal soul upon them.

A Fundamentalist is a Christian who insists that these cardinal truths are fundamental to the Gospel.  Some “Evangelicals” (the term comes from the Greek word for “Gospel”) say they believe the Gospel (you are not an Evangelical unless you do) but can accept a Liberal as a Christian who denies some of them.  This kind would be an Evangelical, but not a Fundamentalist.  I am a Fundamentalist Christian because I hold the fundamentals to be fundamental to the faith, and will not acknowledge any other set of teachings as Christianity.  Yes, I am a Christian and also a Fundamentalist Christian.

A Baptist is a Christian who practices New Testament practices.  Questions of practice among groups of Christians have often been called matters that are “distinct” to that group.  Church history defines a person like me as a Baptist because I practice what are called “the Baptist distinctives.”  Among them are: believer’s baptism by immersion, regenerate church membership, two ordinances of the church, two officers of the church, the church of Jesus Christ as local and visible with Jesus as the head of each congregation, the separation of church and state, and individual soul liberty.  So I am a Baptist, and it is important.  The Baptist distinctives are taught in the Bible.  But being a Baptist is not as important as being a Christian.  A person might get to heaven without being a Baptist, but he cannot get to heaven without being a Christian.

Even Baptists disagree about what the Bible is saying about lesser issues of doctrine or practice.  Personally, I have strong convictions about the preservation of the biblical text and how it relates to the choice of a Bible translation.  I also hold to views about what I understand the Bible to teach about dress, about the security of the believer, about election, about issues of personal “separation,” about principles that apply to church music, about revival, about prayer, and about victory through Christ over sin and the devil.  These are very important matters but they do not have the same biblical weight as do the fundamentals of the Gospel or the distinctives of New Testament practice.  I want to be right about these issues, all of them.  As I understand the light I have on these issues from scripture illuminated by the Holy Spirit, I identify myself to be a Fundamentalist Christian who is a Baptist by conviction.  I also think I am using the right Bible and the right music, and dressing the right way.  I want to be as right as I can be in my point of view, but being right has never been enough.

Notice that the priests were not ready to serve in the Tabernacle until the Tabernacle and its furniture had been anointed with oil (read again Exodus 40:1-11).  Then “Aaron [the high priest] and his sons” (Exodus 40:12-16) were to be washed, clothed, and anointed for service.  When He was baptized by John, the Lord Jesus was anointed with the Holy Ghost (Acts 3:36-38).  On the great Day of Pentecost, all believers in Jesus Christ were anointed with the Holy Spirit (see this in Luke 24:45-49, John 14:15-27, John 16:5-14, Acts 1:1-8, Acts 2:1-18, Second Corinthians 1:21-22, Ephesians 1:12-14, Ephesians 4:30, Ephesians 5:17-18, and First John 2:26-27—it will be worthwhile for a servant of Christ to review these passages and study the anointing again).  We are His priests, but the enduement of power our Lord promised resulting from the anointing of the Spirit does not happen until those sealed with the Spirt when they believed are finally filled with the Spirit when they surrender.  And this happens after they are washed from their sins (John 13:4-10 and 15:1-5) and clothed with Jesus Himself (as in Romans 13:11-14).  Washed, clothed, and anointed, we are finally ready to be used of God to impact the dark world around us.

It really isn’t enough to be a practicing independent, fundamental, King-James, conservative-dressing, Baptist believer.  We must be filled with the Spirit.  “Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).  As we have examined the weightier and lesser matters of the written Word of God, let us now examine ourselves, if we have been washed (by confessing our sins), clothed (by faith putting on Christ), and anointed (by surrender).  Let’s hear revival preaching, engage in self-examination, unite in prayer meetings, and claim the power of God to evangelize the world!  When we have taken such measures, we will be ready to preach our Lord Jesus Christ and to win many to Him.  The lost world is waiting for us to get ready!

 

Thanks for taking the time to read. Feel free to share as God leads you!

 

Two Great Sins Of American Christianity

I remember my first time at Disney World. What an amazing experience! The pyrotechnics (I love fire), musicals, 3d rides, and pineapple ice cream were fantastic. I enjoyed every moment, except having “It’s a Small World” stuck in my head. I noticed something interesting and alarming while at the happiest place on earth though; one of the least common sites was a smile. Thousands of people with nothing to do but eat, drink, and be merry with hardly a smirk to be seen.

As I walked throughout the park those two days I looked and looked for people who seemed joyful and happy. There were few. Even when getting off crazy rides, the average person lacked enthusiasm.

What could be the cause of such a tragedy? Was it the heat, or the lines, or the cost? Perhaps it was everyone had “It’s a Small World After All” running through their minds driving them closer to insanity? I don’t think these were the causes of such widespread unhappiness.

We have a problem in America. Ok, we have a lot of problems in America, but this one is frequently overlooked. This problem has infected us individually, in the home, societally, and in the church. It has spread to all of us.

The evil is bothersome in large quantities, but in little doses it can be enjoyable. Sometimes we share it with others and infect them. At times, groups of friends and family members comfort one another with its poison. I am guilty too.

This grave issue is unthankfulness: murmuring, complaining, ungratefulness, ingratitude.

This “little” problem seeps through our minds and speech going unnoticed and rarely confronted.

As Americans there is little reason to perpetuate this evil, but so much focus is on ourselves that we can’t see how selfish it is-how disastrous to our happiness. We cannot see how it affects those around us, including the lost world.

kids-not-sharing

We often ruin what could be the best moments of life through this wrong focus of ingratitude:

Romans 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

What is presented in this passage is a group of people who have a knowledge of God and reject it because they don’t esteem God as great and are unthankful. The results are: the darkening of man’s heart and affections, vile lusts toward one another, and sinful self-destructive behavior. All of these downfalls are in America today, but I would like to note that the key causes (dethroning God/unthankfulness) are found too frequently in the lives of Christians.

People like you and me, who claim to follow truth, are also perpetrators of America’s downfall.

  1. They Glorified Him Not as God

The greatest command in Scripture is to love God, but Americans worship idols. It’s not by bowing down to statues, but lives in general give a nod to religion and focus on entertainment. New devices are more desired than a meaningful life. Trendy clothes become more important than reaching the needy. Social Media “likes” overtake spreading the gospel. Pure religion is to care for the fatherless and widow-the highlight of America’s religion is a new outfit on Easter.

Carnal people respect talents, looks, riches, athleticism, and personality more than Christlikeness. In the church being “cool” or funny is often a prerequisite for acceptance, not a person’s genuineness or love for Christ. It is forgotten that talents were given by God. There is a tendency to take pride in others and ourselves.

Millions of Christians can tell you the names of their favorite athlete, musician, or actor and would even call them a hero, but don’t esteem (or even know of) a young woman like Katie Davis or faithful men like Richard Wurmbrand who risk their lives to feed the poor and rescue the persecuted. These people, missionaries and ministers sacrificing for the benefit of others, should be more admired. They are not relying on talent or giftedness to gain fame and fortune, but have made the hard choice to lay down their lives for others. Ultimately, they have chosen to esteem God by living the gospel. My point is this:

When we make more of entertainers, and less of God and His servants, we aren’t glorifying God as God. We are erecting idols.

Every talented individual on this planet was gifted by their Creator. They may have developed those gifts, but they didn’t choose to be born musical, attractive, intelligent, or athletic. When men are glorified, and hearts fail to praise their Creator, He is not glorified as God. He deserves thanks and glory for all the pleasurable things we enjoy.

I am not against entertainers or athletes (go Broncos), but selfish lifestyles are promoted and men over God by an unbalanced attention to the trivial. When temporal success is lauded by the church more than eternal values it’s as though God exists to fulfill our dreams of success, instead of believing that joy comes from fulfilling His will. Can an athlete fulfill God’s will for their life through sports? Yes! Most important though is the reflection of Christ in this person’s life, not the gold medal.

Blessings come from seeking God, but we are not to seek God simply for the blessings.

A focus on ourselves and worldly achievements leads us into ungratefulness. Seeking pleasure and notoriety more than His kingdom causes ingratitude to intensify. Chasing happiness is the hardest way to catch it.

It isn’t true that if one isn’t in deep sin and attends a church then he can enjoy the American Dream and God expects little more. The Biblical truth is that God calls all His children to center their lives around Him (Deut. 6:4-15) regardless of their profession.  

God desires a loving relationship with us. This is why Jesus’ call to Christians is about more than living a clean comfortable American life and following a few moral obligations. Jesus calls us to join Him in the work of the gospel by giving up everything, being inconvenienced, and even persecuted to spread God’s love.

 Mark 10:29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s,

Mark 10:30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.

Jesus teaches that true blessing comes when we surrender all we hold dear for God’s glory, not the pursuit of happiness.

We do not esteem God as God when we live for our pleasure and not His, for we were created for Him (Rev. 4:11). 

Are you living to pursue greater pleasure and leisure, or to further the eternal kingdom of God? Are You willing to be inconvenienced, even mocked, to make much of the gospel? 

Living for one’s self breeds ungratefulness.

2. Neither were They Thankful

Back to the illustration of Disney World; The reason so many seem unhappy is because of unthankful attitudes (I overheard this while standing in lines). Sure, Disney World is expensive, but such a small part of the world’s population gets to enjoy such an experience. It was hot, but cold drinks and ice cream are available when desired: most slept in a resort with air conditioning. The lines are boring, but it could be a bread line instead.

Ingratitude grows by focusing on temporal pleasure and minor inconveniences instead of daily blessings. For some, days of leisure, laughter, fun, and family are wasted by ingratitude. Our own lives are ruined when the focus is on negatives. I wonder how many incredible experiences are wasted by being unthankful?

This video gives in an adequate illustration of how one can waste their life.

 

You ruin what you have by seeking what you don’t.

I’ve been blessed to travel the world for four years. As I’ve ministered to orphans in cemeteries and people eating mice, it struck me as absurd how unthankful I can be: how focused I am on myself. America has a culture of envy, dissatisfaction, and covetousness. Americans are constantly aware of all the things they don’t have, concentrating on those objects which they desire to gain, instead of humbly focusing on that for which they can be grateful. This attitude does not please God or aid the church (Col. 3:15).

The sin of ingratitude portrays God as distant and uninvolved, instead of the gracious provisional Father He is.

Being unthankful disables from serving others because it places focus on oneself. Generous people typically focus on what they have to give, not on what they desire to gain. I want to be like that. I want to be like Jesus who, although He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor (2 Cor. 8:9).

Jesus is the physical image of God. He came to heal, restore, and give rest. Throughout the world God uses dedicated people to feed the poor, be a father to the fatherless, and free the addict. He uses those who make much of Him. He uses those who are thankful.

There is always someone with more than you, but there are millions more with less. We will never grow as Christians, or individually, until we focus on gratitude.  A person’s life does not consist in the amount of things he gains, but in the abundance of compassion he gives.

Are you looking for ways to be thankful? Are you looking for ways to give to those with less? Are you positively affecting those around you through a grateful outlook? 

Make much of God, His love, His grace, and His goodness: through your words, through your attitude, through your giving.

Give thanks to God for His love, His grace, and for His goodness: through your words, through your attitude, through generosity.

1 John 4:7-9  Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that liveth is born of God, and knoweth God.He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.