Song 8:5 π Mt. 7:13-14 π Mt. 13:19 π Mt. 13:19-23 π Mt. 13:20-21 π Mt. 13:21 π Mt. 13:22 π Mt. 13:23 π Mt. 13:30 π Mt. 13:41 π Mk. 7:8 π Lk. 19:23 π Jn. 10:1 π Jn. 10:7 π Gal. 5:22-23 π Eph. 4:11-13 π 1 Tim. 4:1 π 2 Pet. 1:5-7
All quotes from A.W. Tozer are from his book, God Tells the Man Who Cares unless otherwise specified.
Why do so many enthusiastic new converts later run out of steam and settle down to a life of dull religious routine? Why do they lose their first zeal and accept the dead average of subnormal spirituality they see about them as the best they can hope to maintain in this present world? Why are they often “smaller” after they have been on the way for several years than they were when they first started on their journey toward the Celestial City? (“The Wasp and the Church Member,” p. 126)
What great questions! If anyone else were to ask them though, the first response is most likely to be “Oh, he’s just bitter – he’s been hurt!” Even Tozer had to qualify some of his comments by stressing that he had not been hurt – evidence that this demonic deflection of the truth about the “church” has been around for some time! (see “The Waning Authority of Christ in the Churches,” pp. 204-205)
In truth there are a number of reasons behind these factors but let us look at the root causes for, if we could cut the root, the fruit will simply die on the branch. Let us take these questions one at a time.
1) Why do so many enthusiastic new converts later run out of steam and settle down to a life of dull religious routine?
Let us first recognize Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seed as perhaps the best explanation. The word of Christ is sown in four different kinds of hearts. The first type does not understand and what was sown in his heart is snatched away. The second receives from the Lord but fails to endure. The third is choked out by the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches. The fourth group bears fruit in various exponential amounts. (see Mt. 13:19-23; top )Some would try to equate the “dull religious routine” of faithful “church” attendance with at least bearing fruit “thirty-fold.” But thirty-fold means that thirty times more than what was sown is reaped. About the only thing faithful “church” attendance produces is an indentation in the pew and some bucks in the clergy’s pockets! Faithful “church” attendance is, at best, more like the lazy servant who couldn’t even bother to deposit his master’s money with the bankers so the master could at least collect interest! (see Lk. 19:23; top )
To understand why the three groups prove unfruitful, we must first understand what “fruit” is. Paul wrote, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” ( Gal. 5:22-23; top ) Fruit is the spiritual aspects of Christ’s nature expressed from within us to others in very tangible ways which are produced only by personal interaction with the Spirit of Christ. If the “churches” produce only spiritually lukewarm individuals – and across the board this is their most usual fruit and has been since long before the days of Tozer – then we must spiritually, finally and rationally conclude that something other than the Spirit of Christ is at work and even in control at most “churches.”
Let us notice that Jesus’ description of the four types of soil includes three groups that lose what is sown in their hearts. The first group failed to understand the spiritual word that was spiritually sown in their hearts and the demonic (spirit beings) comes and violently grabs away what was there. ( Mt. 13:19; top ) This first group of hearers may like to listen to the smooth talk of the “pastor” up front in the pulpit, but they have simply failed to understand the spiritual nature of what they had been given and, unable to protect their new found spiritual treasure with the carnal weapons and devices most often given out at the “churches,” these never fully realize the extent to which they have been robbed by the demonic. These may, and indeed are quite likely to, remain faithful “church” members the rest of their lives but they have already departed from the living God.
2) Why do they lose their first zeal and accept the dead average of subnormal spirituality they see about them as the best they can hope to maintain in this present world?
Look again at Tozer’s description – “enthusiastic new converts” with “zeal” – and compare that with what Jesus said of the second type: “He who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.” ( Mt. 13:20-21 - emphasis added; top) Again, we must recognize that mere “church” attendance is not fruit. In fact, the enthusiastic, zealous new convert most often settles into the life of dull, religious, routine “church” attendance and its accompanying subnormal spirituality – and these too may remain there for the rest of their days and never return to the living God.
This category, Jesus said, has no root in himself. (v. 21; top ) He may have great faith in the “pastor” who zealously puts forth from the pulpit his aura of infallibility (an arrogant skill implanted early in most seminary students) or they may feel very comfortable or pleased with the services their “church” renders to their own soul but at the first bit of spiritual testing, trial or persecution, they fail to spiritually seek the spiritual Lord who has some very specific purpose in putting them through those trials – and they stumble and fall away from the Lord even as they climb the ladder of success in their “church” structure or find new levels of acceptability in their “church” circles. This is yet more evidence that someone other than the Spirit of Christ is active and even in control of most “churches.”
3) Why are they often “smaller” after they have been on the way for several years than they were when they first started on their journey toward the Celestial City?
The third category of soil, Jesus said, heard the word but “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” ( Mt. 13:22 - emphasis added; top) The growth of the spiritual Seed is choked out because their “church” is worldly or corrupted by deceit. They may be “deacon,” “elder” or “pastor” but the spiritual life has been choked out. This is not a special category of “churches” that have been careless with the way they handle the word of truth – this is the case of every “church” that has the worldly power structure of “pastor” over the flock where professionals, and not the people, do the work of ministry to one another and to the world.
Paul wrote, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some shepherds and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying [building up] of the body of Christ, till we all [not just some small percentage] come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect [mature, complete] man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, that we should no longer be children…” ( Eph. 4:11-13 - emphasis added; top)
When any “ministry” or “church” excludes or alters what Christ Himself gave to spiritually mature His people, it only opens the door for demonic deception and intervention in the lives of the people who are so “ministered” to. Very few “churches” – even those who recognize the doctrine and giftings of the so-called fivefold ministry – raise up apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers completely free of the demonic “church” paradigm. Wherever the demonic gains ground – and Nicolaitan clergyism nested in all the “church” trappings furnishes them great access to many, if not all, “church” leadership – they will continue to dose any real sheep who come through their doors with just enough truth and error to keep them from ever recognizing that they have become lukewarm toward the spiritual Lord of glory.
Peter lists eight progressive steps to reaching spiritual maturity: “Giving all diligence, add to your faith goodness, to goodness knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, to brotherly kindness love.” ( 2 Pet. 1:5-7; top ) Any “church” or “ministry” that excludes or alters any step in this spiritual process – and nearly every “church” and “ministry” does – is a counterfeit or, at best, a dilution of a true work of God.
Tozer mentions “the Celestial City.” This is a reference to the upward call to heaven and eternal life in Christ as it was used in John Bunyan’s allegorical The Pilgrim’s Progress. In his allegory, Bunyan used the picture of a wicket gate as the only means by which one could even begin the spiritual journey to the Celestial City. (see Jn. 10:1 , 7 ) As Christian, the main character of the story, entered the wicket gate, Goodwill, the keeper of the gate, took hold of his arm and gave him a quick pull and then explains, “There on the outside, not far from this gate, is a strong castle, guarded by Beelzebub and his men; and from it they shoot arrows at those entering here, that they might maim them, or prevent them from entering.” (Pilgrim’s Progress in Today’s English, p. 28) That “strong castle” is the now-massive structure of the apostate “church” system built on the doctrines of demons ( 1 Tim. 4:1 ) and the divisive, conflicting traditions of men. ( Mk. 7:8 ) Interestingly, Bunyan, writing in 1678 from inside a prison, never explains exactly what this strong castle is – further indications that God was allowing the tares to mature right alongside the true wheat (see Mt. 13:30 ) without revealing the disguises which conceal them. That the tares are becoming more recognizable for what they really are is a sure indication that the harvest ( Mt. 13:41; top ) is very near – and God is graciously giving men snared under the deceptive “church” paradigm their (last?) opportunity to choose whether they will be tares or wheat.
Jesus described the fourth category of soil by saying that they heard and understood the word and then bore spiritual fruit in exponential amounts. ( Mt. 13:23 ) These are those who are not diverted from the narrowing way that leads to eternal life. ( Mt. 7:13-14 ) Most often these few are those who have abandoned the “church” and gone off alone (more often by necessity than choice) with the Lord into the wilderness to be prepared for the last hour that is soon upon us. Only when these come up from the wilderness leaning on the Beloved ( Song 8:5; top ) - and not upon any other paradigm, tradition, teaching or philosophy – will they be ready for what is to come.
Let us conclude this chapter with a quote from the same chapter by Tozer – one we will examine in more detail in a later chapter. Tozer wrote, “If we offer our converts something beside Christ or something in addition to Christ, we should not be disappointed if they do not run well or long.” (“The Wasp and the Church Member,” p. 128) The “church” is the system that is run by someone other than Christ (something Tozer himself admitted, probably without realizing the depth of what he was really saying – see “The Waning Authority of Christ in the Churches,” pp. 206-210) and that adds the traditions of men and the doctrines of demons onto the precepts of following Christ. Don’t be disappointed when only those who have fallen from the faith are the membership of the visible, abominable “church.”
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