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!

 

“Where’s the Beef?” A Missing Ingredient in Traditional Church. (Warning: Millennial Perspective)

The church is facing a great dilemma, especially the Fundamental Baptist Church: we’re right, we’re godly, we’re biblical, we’re separated, we’re holy, we’re doctrinal, we’re conservative, but we’re shrinking! “We’re losing the millennials! What are we going to do?” This is a question I have been asked on many occasions since I am a millennial, and because I have had the opportunity to serve in dozens upon dozens of churches in evangelism. Many answers on blogs and social media have been given to solve this conundrum: change the music, drop the ties, use media, speak their language, focus on their needs, have cooler activities, connect on their level, preach topically, preach expository, be vulnerable, be real, have fun, be funny, be serious, focus on social issues, involve them in community outreach, get them active in community service etc etc etc… While some of these are good, many churches do these things and still fail to reach this generation.

Some men don’t want to reach the millennials. They’d rather attack anyone who builds a church by doing something different than what the preachers of the 1960’s did. They believe most millennials are carnal, selfish, narcissistic, shallow, and ignorant. They think all we care about is lower standards, more fun, and novelty. While this may describe a portion of this generation (and many in their own), I don’t believe it describes the majority of conservative Christian millennials. I have many friends who passionately love God, but are searching for His presence in a church. A lack of teaching on standards, less conservatism in the culture, lack of dedication, and wrong music are ultimately not what is hurting this generation. The problem is much deeper.

Do you remember that old Wendy’s commercial with three short old ladies standing around a huge hamburger bun? It’s about a foot in diameter and they can’t stop commenting about the size, “That’s a big bun.” Another says, “That’s a very big bun.” The first replies, “That’s a fluffy bun.” The taller one answers bewildered, “That’s a very big fluffy bun.” Then she removes the top with a gasp, and inside there is a patty so small it’s hidden under the pickle slice. The third lady, who is the shortest and crankiest of the three, chimes in for the first time and angrily asks while looking around the room, “Where’s the beef? WHERE’S the beef? HEY, where’s the BEEF?” The announcer then confidently compares McDonalds to that measly excuse for a meal and promotes Wendy’s more fulfilling version.

The main ingredient and substance of a hamburger is not found in the bun, a hamburger is nothing without the beef. The attraction of the early church was not social reform, music, activities, or cool buildings. It was the power of God (Acts 1:8). From my travels in evangelism over the past four years, and studying and conversing with Christlike millennials, members, and pastors, what we are all wondering is, “Where’s the POWER?”

We’ve heard of the great preachers in the 60’s and 70’s. We’ve seen the great church buildings and Christian schools so many sacrificed to build. We know that this older generation loves God! Yet, for THIS generation we have been left asking, “Where’s the power?”

John the Baptist preached with the power of Elias (Luke 1:17). The church was filled with miracles. It had incredible prayer meetings where God answered and filled men with His Spirit (Acts 2). The Christians prayed for boldness and went into the world seeing thousands receive Christ (Acts 4:33). Stephen was full of faith and power. When they had a problem they didn’t make excuses, they prayed down the power of God. Paul’s preaching wasn’t about homiletics, illustrations, and alliteration, it was “In demonstration of the Spirit and in power.” Read the book of Acts. Read 1 Corinthians. It was the power of God that brought people to Christ; not gimmicks, not tricks, but the felt, seen, and heard power of God!  1 Corinthians 4:20 For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. If there’s one thing the millennials I know are asking, it’s this: Where’s the POWER?

Growing up in a Bible preaching, conservative, separated movement I remember hearing at camp, in church, and in Bible college of the evils of CCM, liberal, and just less conservative churches. I was taught very clearly from an early age why I should be an Independent Baptist, and the reasoning made sense! These “compromising” and “backslidden” churches were obviously a great distress to a holy God. Sure they saw people saved and had powerful services, but that didn’t matter because they never grew to be as spiritual as us. They didn’t comprehend biblical separation and holiness.

I understood and was told that those people lived “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.”  They had hype, but they didn’t have true spiritual power. They were full of sin and worldliness, while we were separate and holy. Yet, as I was reading through 2 Timothy recently and trying to be honest about myself and where I need to grow, I was surprised to see how many evidences of “powerless religion” are found in my own life, and in our churches.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:from such turn away.Where's the beef?

Take a second to look at those verses and compare them to yourself and your family. Take a look at those in your church and see if these qualities don’t exemplify the daily lives of your friends and congregation. If you read this list and honestly consider yourself, it may convict you about how many of those sins are in your life.

Could it be, that in our conservative churches, we read these verses thinking of a church down the road, when most of these sins are found in our own? Could it be that we have churches full of people who love themselves too much to sacrifice time to lead souls to Christ; or are too busy to encourage others around them; or are too worried about their reputation to eat with “publicans and sinners” so sinners might know the love of God?

Could it be that Christians in the most prosperous nation of the world are unthankful for multiplied blessings, while continually wishing we had better cars, more clothes, nicer homes, and bigger TV’s? Do we not have hearts full of covetousness towards those who are more wealthy, respected, or talented?

Are we not full of pride because of our Bible knowledge and conservatism? Is there not boasting of how great our families and our churches are? Are there not numbers of young people leaving our churches and teens rebelling because, since their youth, they were disobedient to parents?

Could it be, with all of our “dedication” to the Word of God, that we still get more pleasure out of hours of March Madness, TV shows, movies, sports, hunting, fishing, shopping, and hobbies than we do time with God or preaching (although we would never admit it)? Are you a lover of pleasures more than a lover of God?

Could it be that we have a form of godliness with our ties, suits, hair, dresses, choirs, conservatism, and haughty Christian verbiage, yet we don’t have the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace etc..?

Could it be, in spite of all of the righteousnesses found in our positions, we also lack the power of God in our lives? Aren’t many of our services attended out of duty, and not pleasure because we sense the presence of God? I have been in churches across the country which have as much of the Spirit of God working in them as you’d find in a catholic mass. The preaching is as convicting as the reading of Scripture in Latin. There’s no joy. The hymns are dead.

We’ve been doing the same stand up-sit down routine since we were born and can’t remember the last time we felt the presence of God. We don’t know what it is to personally see lives transformed through the gospel. We have never experience a moving of God in corporate prayer. We have no expectations of experiencing the Holy Spirit at church, it’s just a religious duty. Where’s the power?

One of my professors in college often said, “The greatest problem of our day is that the times are desperate, and we are not.”

We see anger and fighting between spouses, dads aren’t involved with their kids spiritually, and being a mom is less attractive than a career. This is because of a lack of natural affection. We frequently enjoy movies that blaspheme the name of God and which idealize pride, rebellion, sexuality, and materialism (it’s ok to watch just not in a theatre). We have all the same problems as “the church down the road” but we’re better because our services haven’t changed in a hundred years. Sure, our services aren’t like the early church, but we’re better than most.

Could it be that we have so lost the power of God that we think He is pleased with us just because of our standards? Meanwhile pride, envy, anger, impatience, lust, ingratitude, gossip, lack of compassion, and jealously reign unchecked and unconquered in our hearts and homes. Are we religious, but powerless over the flesh? Are we “Christian,” but nothing like Christ?

It seems to me that this is the case. We have raised a generation that knows not God, nor His works (Judges 2:10).

So, how do we bring back the power? Most importantly, we must be humble enough to admit we have a problem. We must quit judging every other church and be broken over the condition of our own lives and homes (James 4:6-11). We must realize that what God wants from us is to love Him with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength; not just to check off Christian duties (Matthew 22:37-40). Is there anything you’re holding back from God?

We must compare ourselves with Scripture, and not with the church down the road (2 Timothy 3:14-16). Be like Christ and not any man (1 Corinthians 1:29-31). Let the Holy Spirit have control of your life and services (1 Corinthians 2:4-5). PRAY PRAY PRAY (Luke 11:8)!  Be desperate for the power of God in your life (2 Corinthians 12:9)! God’s power comes with God’s presence (Psalm 63:1-2), and God’s presence comes after we have made peace with man and peace with God (Hebrews 12:14). We can not have God’s power if we no longer seek to be right in His presence.

The number of nonbelievers is a growing group in this generation. I hope to see an outpouring of God’s power in my life and my generation. Do you? Where’s the POWER?