More Than You Imagine
William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army prophesied our generation with amazing clarity when he said, “I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.”
Booth saw a day when the Christian faith would become so diluted, so watered down by the thoughts and imaginations of men that it would scarcely be recognizable as the Christian faith of the Bible. With amazing perception, Booth could foresee a generation that would replace the wisdom and anointing of the Holy Ghost with its own imaginings and feelings; a religion so amalgamated with the perverted vision of the flesh that Christ would become less and less real and more and more metaphorical.
Booth very astutely prophesied that self-centered men would eventually grow weary with the burden of acknowledging responsibility for their rebellion against God and devise a plan whereby salvation could actually be realized without the drudgery of seeking forgiveness for offending a Holy God; indeed a day when the idea of “offending” a loving God would be ridiculous.
The faith of this generation has reshaped, or reimagined God as to how He “ought” to be, rather than the God the Bible declares Him to be. One only needs to refer to the infallible resources of social media where “in my opinion” carries a far greater weight than “the Bible says.” In fact, some of the most enlightened theologians of our day warn us not to use such obviously off-putting language as “the Bible says,” because it conveys an air of elitism and arrogance. As a consequence, some of the most outlandish ideas are floated as if God has somehow been invited into the tolerance conversation, leaving all those inconvenient moral absolutes in the trash can where they belong.
Without realizing it, Booth foresaw a day when the rainbow would have more power than the cross, and the modification of Christianity to a more tolerant, more open minded, more. . . . oh, what should we say here, a more open and affirming faith. After all, don’t we understand that God accepts us the way we are. Except, that’s the way we “feel,” and the way we feel is not always harmonious with spiritual reality.
There are many today who claim that Jesus was only negative toward the Pharisees and Sadducees – the religious people. Their idea is that Jesus rebuked them because they were “religious.” I disagree. Jesus rebuked them because they were sinners; sinners trying to elude a relationship with God by donning a cloak of religious fervor. Jesus doesn’t hate religion, he hates hypocrisy, and believe me evangelical Christians don’t have a corner on the hypocrisy market.
God also hates prideful posturing, untruthful communications, hands that shed innocent blood, hearts that devise wicked imaginations, feet that run gleefully into mischief, those who make false accusations, and those who purposely sow discord. (Proverbs 6:16-19) Wow! There are an awful lot of folks that have to bear these mantles that don’t go to church every Sunday. I get no indication here that God is “open and affirming” toward those that practice such things. Lest we be tempted to not want to use such a strong word as hate, because everyone knows that the God of the 21st century doesn’t hate anyone except for evangelical christians; the Hebrew word for “hate” in Proverbs 16 is sane (pronounced sä·nā’). It is a verb (action word) and it means to actively hate as one hates an enemy. That pretty much puts all of us in the same bag. Shake it up and dump it out and it’s hard to tell one of us from the other.
So, God does not love any of us “just the way we are.”
Without Christ, all of us are enemies of God.
Without Christ, we are in jeopardy of eternal damnation.
Without a relationship to Christ, we are completely outside the circle of those whom God accepts.
Noted Scottish theologian Sinclair B. Ferguson puts it very succinctly: It is misleading to say that God accepts us the way we are. Rather He accepts us despite the way we are. He receives us only in Christ and for Christ’s sake. Nor does He mean to leave us the way he found us, but to transform us into the likeness of His son.
We read in the book of Revelation of the return of Christ to establish His eternal Kingdom. There are two phrases written on his robe – and they are NOT open and affirming. And I saw heaven opened, and behold a whitehorse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. (Revelation 19:11) He will come with the armies of Heaven, a powerful sword with which He will smite the nations, and upon his robe are written the words King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He will call to His side ONLY those who, through the ministrations of the Holy Spirit, have been transformed into His likeness.
However you imagine God…you would do well to consider yourself mistaken. God is not who you think He is. He is who He says He is.