Jn. 3:3 π 2 Tim. 3:1-5
The body of Christ, the ekklesia, is losing its vocabulary and, with its vocabulary, it's careless members are embracing a form of godliness which lacks the power of primitive and authentic Christianity. Words that once held poignant meaning and sacred specialty now prostitute themselves to every apostate and hypocrite who cares to drape himself with the labels and descriptives of Christianity.
There are a myriad of causes which underlie this deplorable state of existence for the bride of Christ who is supposed to be diligently watching and waiting for her Bridegroom. But for our purposes here, it will be sufficient to look at three causes.
First, is a declining scholastic ability across the board - this "dumbing down" of individuals renders them less capable in many regards but is especially damaging spiritually. Studies have shown that since the early 60s ("coincidentally" the same time that prayer was removed from the public schools in the U.S.), actual measurable knowledge has dramatically declined. Students graduating from high school with high marks often know less today than did sixth and eighth grade students of the 1950s and 60s. In addition, students who received private training, both prior to and since 1964, especially those who received training in a private Christian school or in "home school," tend to know more facts about history and generally show a broader grasp of intellectual matters than do their peers who received training at public schools. Accompanying this lack of knowledge is a growing dependence on television and media sources for information and entertainment; reading is neglected and considered old-fashioned. Imagination, with its wonderful challenges and stimulations of the brain, is no longer required to picture what is being said; the picture and sound, the imagination of someone else, are simultaneously provided. All that is necessary is that you shut down your brain and let all the pre-packaged thoughts of others be fed to you through the hypnotic medium of television. This overall lack of knowledge and initiative leaves the ekklesia instantly vulnerable to any wind of doctrine, any teacher's explanations, and many of the rampant superstitious nonsenses of the less- educated.
The second greatest source of words degenerating and losing their impact and meaning for us has been our lack of seriousness and diligence in protecting their original meanings. The pendulum of Christian behavior has swung in such a manner so as to make it a virtual act of condemnation to speak out against false doctrines and heresies, especially the "church" lies. Where a Tertullian or Iraneaus would have waxed eloquent and a Luther or Spurgeon would have thundered fiery, unstoppable rebukes at the monstrous and blasphemous distortions of God's precious Word by the heretics of their day, we are expected to quietly extend the gentle hand of acceptance and fellowship of a meek and mild, gentle Jesus to these thieves and bandits who come in God's name to beguile, fleece and ultimately abandon a thoroughly confused, deceived and disillusioned flock of God. Now, not only is it unloving to confront these "brothers" regarding their sin but we are to sit silently by while they lead millions astray with their phony-Faith doctrines, high-pressure-guilt money and obedience tactics, and their intellectual-but-counterfeit rendering of the gospel. These soulish expressions of Christianity are only blasphemous destruction of sound teachings as the "church" leaders tickle ears with their "you can worship Jesus however YOU want to!" gospel.
But in one sense, this is to be expected. Paul warned Timothy of the perilous nature of the last days as deception will be lurking at every corner. Paul warned that "men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power." ( 2 Tim. 3:1-5; top ) With a character description such as that, it is not hard to see how the thirst for knowledge would decline and how dry, empty religion would fail to satisfy the hungry heart that yearns to know its Creator. Words that used to sing of vibrant life and that virtually overflowed with personal meaning and depth of personal application now are words we would have to look up in some dictionary to find out what they really mean.
And that points to the third cause of the degeneration of meaning in our words. We allow someone else to use the term wrongly because we don't know what it means either and it becomes a common practice to use words and phrases that, were the proper meaning to be explained to us, our ignorance would be immediately discernible to all. Our stock phrases would make us a laughingstock to those who listen to us were the true meaning known when we toss off these now meaningless and trite commodities to appease and confuse the masses.
To illustrate the extent of the travesty foisted upon the genuine pursuit of the living God as He has revealed Himself in His priceless Book, let's look at a few examples of the modern meanings that have become attached to certain words, words that were once the sole domain and property of true discipleship to the Lord Jesus Christ but are now the bywords of every would-be star in the preaching circus of modern evangelical churchianity.
Take the word "anointing." In the Old Testament, it referred to pouring special oil on a priest or a king to initiate him into his new role. In the New Testament, it was expanded to include the fact that the Holy Spirit had taken up residence in our lives and instilled in us certain characteristics and gave us certain insights we would otherwise not have. But now that modern churchianity is rewriting the dictionary, it has come to include forceful, dynamic preaching, the ability to play music with emotion, and any other natural talent or gift which normally causes people to pay attention, think or feel whatever the speaker or performer wants his audience to do, think or feel. All this stirring up of others' souls is called "the anointing." And heaven help the poor slob who speaks a challenging word against someone who claims to have special anointing. Why, it's as if they had blasphemed the Holy Spirit Himself. Lo, how the mighty are fallen - slain on the heights of stupidity and ignorance.
Then there is the central theme of the Bible: Repentance. Repent and you will be saved. Repentance, in the New Testament used to mean that you were sorrowful over the wickedness that resided at the very core of your existence - sorrowful enough to do something about it, like seek help from the Creator of life. But now repentance means something along the lines of crusading for some pet cause or another. The message could almost be given "Repent and fight against abortion." Or "Repent and worship the Jesus of your imagination in your own way!" Lost is the idea of sinful man falling to his knees in broken, sobbing contrition before a mighty and justly vengeful God who otherwise lives in unapproachable light. No, repentance no longer leads to salvation because it is no longer repentance.
And salvation itself has taken on new meaning. Now Christianity is a given. Grace is available to every one who is born into a so-called Christian family or who has attended a "proper" "church" for a number of years. Although, what is "proper" and what is a sufficient number of years is always open to debate among these intellectual giants of scholasticism who have long since "proven" the fallibility of the Bible and have shown how the miracles recorded therein were just explainable sleight of hand tricks and illusions. Gone are Jesus' cutting remarks to Nicodemus - Nicodemus, the cream of Israel's religious crop, the leading authority on all matters of life and law in a legalistic, religion- bound culture - that even he had to go back to the very beginning, the basest of starting points. "You must be born again," Jesus said. "Unless one is born again, he can not even see the kingdom of heaven." ( Jn. 3:3; top ) But today's salvation is much easier to experience. One need only walk forward at an "altar call" and repeat some "sinner's prayer" to be brought into "salvation." Unfortunately for far too many, this "salvation" will not be true salvation when God opens the books to see whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.
And if ever a blessed phrase has come to mean everything and therefore nothing it is that happy phrase "filled with the Holy Spirit." When, in Acts 2, it meant that the Holy Spirit of God had condescended to dwell in and upon men with mighty and miraculous power, now it has come to mean everything from indigestion to emotionalism to charismania. Being filled with the Holy Spirit, often described as "drunk on the Holy Ghost," is given as an excuse for all manner of silly and stupid behaviors. Now I am aware that God will play with His kids, especially during times of special visitation. But when there is no fear of God before the eyes of these people who claim that God, using someone in an unBiblical "ministry of laughter," is tickling their funny bone, there is a severe and sad lack of discernment on the part of the body of Christ. May God deliver us from all such ignorance.
The list indeed goes on and includes words like "church," "pastor," and "authority." But to those who have ears to hear, the point has been made. As has been so wonderfully said before, a word to the wise is sufficient, but the same word to a fool is a useless gesture and a waste of precious time. Don't be foolish - hear what God's Spirit is saying to His people today.
Father, our most precious and holy Father God in heaven, deliver us from our own ignorance. We have so long neglected Your truth and Your power. We have come to look upon the holy things as mere trash and we feed upon the trash of Satan's deceptions as if it were gourmet fare. We have lost our way, dear Shepherd, and we know not how to find You. Please be merciful to us, for we are sinners by nature. Bestow grace on those who know no better than to trample underfoot things that are precious and sacred and show us the light of Your truth. Give us courage and grace to oppose those who distort Your Word. Make me Your humble servant today, Lord. Don't let me be lost forever! Amen.
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