Shack Author, Young’s new book of lies illustrates why ‘Radical Church’ is essential reading

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In November 2016 EP Books published my book ‘Radical Church: A Call to Rediscover the Radical Roots of the Christian Faith”. This month author of the Shack, William Paul Young has published his book ‘Lies we believe about God’. Why do I mention these two titles together? In my book I argued for key truths that the western church has either neglected, rejected or lost sight of – and consequently needs to recover. Young in his book says many of these ‘truths’ are actually lies.

‘Radical Church’ was written as a rallying call. It’s a call to restore a dying church. Young’s book is also a rallying call, but I would say it is rallying call to put the final nail in the coffin of biblical Christianity.

‘Radical Church’ calls the church to rediscover the Sovereignty of God, the sinfulness of humanity, the authority and sufficiency of scripture, the Judgement to come, and the Divine-wrath absorbing and bloody sacrifice of Jesus Christ. These are foundational truths – yet Young calls them lies.

For example, regarding sin and human nature, Young says:

“Yes, we have crippled eyes, but not a core of un-goodness. We are true and right, but often ignorant and stupid, acting out of the pain of our wrongheadedness, hurting ourselves, others, and even all creation. Blind, not depraved is our condition.”

In ‘Radical Church’ I make the point:

Humans were made in the image of God, and they were created to reflect God’s glory and greatness. However, when the devil told Adam and Eve that we could ‘be like God’ we reached beyond our station. We snatched a power that that is greater than our identity and purpose. We committed treason; we robbed for ourselves that which belongs to God alone. Consequently we have a higher view of ourselves than is actually true. We are pretenders to the throne.

In ‘Radical Church’ I explain the downgrading that has taken place within evangelicalism. This sheds light on some of the statements that Young makes in his book. In ‘Radical Church’ I argue:

The Bible’s teaching on the human condition is incredibly unpopular in our society today. Humanism boasts in the greatness of human nature. Humanism celebrates human potential and human goodness. To a self-assured humanistic culture, the idea that humans are sinful by nature, sinful in heart, and sinful in deed is a radical and prophetic rebuke. Society does not want to hear about sin, and neither do many quarters of the church. Even within evangelicalism there is a tendency to neglect or reject this teaching. Evangelicalism, in many parts of the West, has ceased calling sinners to repentance, and is instead celebrating the greatness of human potential. However, in order to see true gospel transformation, we need to understand the depth of the human problem: we are not just broken people in need of wholeness; we are rebels in need of redemption.

What I say is truth, Young claims is a lie.

Someone is wrong. One of these positions is not the truth.

If you do read Young’s book, I’d encourage you to read ‘Radical Church’ as a counter-argument. More importantly, test Young’s claims in the light of scripture. Because the real tragedy is not that Young’s book indirectly implies my book is full of lies, the real issue is that Young’s book makes the Bible a book of lies.

For a detailed review of ‘Lies we believe’ check out Challies’ article.

 

When evil seems to get the upper-hand – what can we do?

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There are seasons when things go so, so wrong. There are times when tragedy triumphs. There are periods when evil seems to prevail. In these moments, there are tears. There are doubts. There is anger. There is confusion.
When we are in these situations, sometimes we can lose sight of God. It is a time when faith can be fragile, and fear seems ferocious.
I pray that the following few thoughts offer some help for the battle.
1. Don’t forget the devil

1 Peter 5:8: Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Perhaps there are some Christians who focus too much on the devil and demons. However, for the majority of western Christians, I think we fall into the other extreme. We underestimate the devil. We perhaps don’t even give him a thought. We assume he is not bothered about us. Hear the words of scripture. The enemy is real. The enemy is dangerous. 
2. Jesus is greater
This is not glib triumphalism. It is reality. Right now, it might not look like Jesus is greater. At times it can look like all hell has broken loose. That must have been how it looked when Stephen was stoned to death in the 1st century. How could this happen? Jesus had risen. The Spirit had come. The apostles were performing mighty miracles. How could God allow this to happen to Stephen. The man of God is dead, where is the God of the man? Where is his protection now? Where is his miracle working power? Why does it look like darkness has the upper hand?
And the truth is we don’t know – ultimately. We know that God is sovereign, we know that he works his purposes out even in the midst of gross darkness, evil and pain. It might not feel like it, but Jesus is still on the throne.

Acts 10: 38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

Jesus was greater than Satan when he walked the earth, and Jesus is greater than Satan now that he has died, risen and is reigning at the right hand of God. The words of an old song say,

The power of darkness comes in like a flood
The battle belongs to the Lord
He’s raised up a standard, the power of His blood
The battle belongs to the Lord

Again, this isn’t triumphalism – it is a deep reality that the only help we have in the midst of spiritual darkness is Jesus. And Jesus is the name above every other name.

3. Pray, Pray, Pray.
Another hymn says, “Satan trembles when he sees, the weakest saint upon his/her knees.”. Are we tempted? Pray. Are we in despair? Pray. Are we angry at God? Pray. It needn’t be religious – it’s better if it isn’t. Shout if you need to. Now is not the time for middle-class politeness – now is the time for gut-wrenching crying out to God.

I waited for the Lord my God
And patiently did bear
At length to me He did incline
My voice and cry to hear
He took me from a fearful pit
And from the miry clay
And on a rock He set my feet
Establishing my way

4. Never give up

Don’t throw in the towel. Don’t walk away from God. Don’t leave the church. This is exactly what the enemy wants. It might be hard. It might seem impossible but keep holding on. We need to balance the truth that God preserves his people with the truth that we are called to persevere.

Hebrews 12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
God Disciplines His Children
4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”[a]
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,”[b] so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Concluding thoughts.

This is a broken-messed up world. In the words of the Verve, life is a bitter-sweet symphony. The middle-class, western, selfie-oriented image of life being a never-ending party is phony. Tozer said ‘The world is not a playground, it’s a battle ground’. As Christians we have real hope, but it’s a hope that rises in the midst of blood, tears and death. There is a day coming when God will wipe away every tear and death will be no more, until then we fight. We might stagger and fall but arise and fight we must because the Kingdom of God is calling.

The Selfie on the Mount: Is it time to die to selfies?

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So Jesus and his besties head off to a stunning mountain location for a publicity launch. Their ministry is really kicking off. They are receiving thousands of followers. Folk like their stuff. Everyone is sharing their content. Jesus is going viral. Here’s what happened at the promo!

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and they posed for a selfie. His communications team quickly shared it in social media: #how2Bawesome

Jesus said.

  • Blessed are the self-confident, for them anything is possible.
  • Blessed are those who always look happy and fulfilled, for they will be considered successful.
  • Blessed are the determined, for they will inherit the earth.
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for acclaim, for they will be noticed.
  • Blessed are those who promote themselves, for they will get there eventually.
  • Blessed are the ambitious in heart, for they will see their goals fulfilled.
  • Blessed are the tolerant, for they will be considered good.
  • Blessed are those who are praised because of political correctness, for theirs is the praise of all people.

Jesus then went on to teach his followers the art of virtue signalling.

“Be careful to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. Whenever you do something good – e.g. raise money for a cause, help a homeless person, or run a community event – make sure you take a pic, post the pic online, hashtag it, and encourage your followers to share it. If you do, you will have great reward from your followers on social media. You will get lots of likes.

“So when you give to the needy, announce it on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to be honoured by others. Truly I tell you, you have received your reward in full. But when you give to the needy, let everyone know what you are doing, so that your giving may be not be in secret. Then your social media friends, who see what is done in public, will reward you.

“And when you pray, do not be like the old time puritans, for they love to pray in secret. Truly I tell you, they have missed out on their earthly reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and tweet about who and what you are praying for. You don’t even need to actually pray for the people. You just need to tell them you are praying. Most people draw more comfort from being told they are being prayed for than the fact that prayers are being made. Then your Followers, who see what is done online, will reward you.

Edit

It has come to our attention that the previous article is #FakeNews. Despite the fact that the above scenario is a current en masse trend.

Apparently, the real story is the one below.

Introduction to the Sermon on the Mount

5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,     for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn,     for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek,     for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,     for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful,     for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart,     for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers,     for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,     for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Giving to the Needy

6 “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Prayer

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

The Radical Church – Foreword and Review

You can David Robertson’s Foreword to ‘Radical Church’ over at his blog http://www.theweeflea..com

THE BLOG OF DAVID ROBERTSON

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“For too long the western church has occupied a throne and has abandoned the cross. The church has reigned as king instead of bowing as a servant.”

John Caldwell’s statement is not new. In fact there is very little in this wee book that is new. You can find more detailed analysis of current cultural trends, contemporary church issues, historical developments and in-depth theology elsewhere. What you will not find, and what is new, is that all these things are brought together in this one book in a manner which addresses the needs of the churches today and which is accessible to the vast majority of people.

John’s basic thesis is one that I would totally agree with. One of the reasons that we set up Solas Centre for Public Christianity was precisely because we identified the same trends that John notices. With his social and varied ecclesiastical background he…

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Why we Need to Recover the Legacy of David Wilkerson

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David Wilkerson is a source of inspiration to many Christians. His book The Cross and the Switchblade spread his influence beyond his own pentecostal circles and inspired multitudes of Christians from various denominations. However, whilst Wilkerson is a hero of the faith to many Christians, he is first and foremost, a pentecostal champion of the faith. Wilkerson is to Pentecostals what Calvin is to Presbyterians, Thomas Chalmers is to the Free Church and Spurgeon is to Baptists. In other words, he is an example of what it is to live out his Biblical convictions.

I’m personally indebted to the life and ministry of David Wilkerson in a number of ways. As a teenager, in a Roman Catholic School, I heard the story of the Cross and the Switchblade and it made a lasting impression upon my mind. Growing up in a socially deprived housing scheme in the outskirts of Glasgow, Wilkerson’s story resonated with me. Here was a religion I could understand.

Later, after finding Christ in the midst of addiction, poverty and social chaos, I came into contact with the ministry of Teen Challenge. It was here I discovered that Wilkerson’s ministry had gone global. It was here I discovered that I wasn’t the only person living life on the margins of society who had discovered the power of the risen Christ.

Later again I discovered Wilkerson the pastor, teacher and prophet. As I sought to search out a church, understand the Bible, and weigh up the conflicting claims of different church groups, Wilkerson’s sermons brought light. He helped me navigate the prosperity gospel, the excesses associated with the Toronto Blessing, and he nurtured the desire for deep personal holiness.

Whilst I wouldn’t endorse everything that Wilkerson wrote or said, I am convinced that Wilkerson’s voice needs to be heard in the evangelical church today. The general evangelical movement would be well served by turning to his teachings. Yet more importantly, I believe Pentecostals need to rediscover their own prophet, pastor and preacher. Many people today have been inspired by Wilkerson, but very few have been discipled by him. Many have caught his heart for the broken, but they haven’t grasped his solution. Many have tried to follow his ministry, but they haven’t grasped his message.

Here are a few essential areas where a rediscovery of David Wilkerson’s Legacy could transform our churches and ministries.

Wilkerson shows us the importance of:

  1. Taking the gospel to the streets

Street ministry is one of the first areas of ministry I got involved in. At the turn of the millennium, in Scotland, street ministry wasn’t a massive thing. Most Christians I encountered had a negative view of street ministry. However, since then, many youth work agencies, and funders have begun to prioritise street work. The popularity of street ministry has also increased due to the increase of Street Pastors.

David Wilkerson was, in many ways, a pioneer of street ministry. However, street ministry today often lacks the essential ingredient that made Wilkerson’s ministry so high impact. A lot of street ministry does not take the gospel to the streets. Wilkerson talks about this importance of the gospel in one of his books.

I had a message for street fighters, gang leaders, kids who stabbed each other with knives and jabbed themselves with needles – and a lot of them were beginning to listen. Wherever I could – in church, on a street corner, in a wretched abandoned basement that served as a clubhouse, — I preached the message of God’s love, Christ’s atoning death, and the Holy Spirit’s power to work wonders in this world.[1]

It’s crystal clear. Wilkerson was not just out to help people socially, he was out to transform people spiritually. And that transformation came through a message. Today, a lot of street ministry either makes no attempt to make evangelism an aim, or it fudges the message. Wilkerson was very clear about his message. Yes, he preached God’s love, but that love looked like something – the cross. Wilkerson knew it was the message of the cross that would transform lives.

Further, he understood that the only thing that could make his message effective was the power of the Holy Spirit. This is Christianity 101 yet it is virtually missing today.

Wilkerson’s message was so simple, yet so powerful – a God who loves you, a God who has given his son to die for you that you may be saved and set free. And a God who will impart love, hope, healing and holiness, deep into your soul by the power of His Spirit.

This is desperately needed today.

  1. Confronting the Church with its compromise

The second area Wilkerson is needed is the area of correction and challenge. It seems today that we live in a culture of two extremes. We are either critics or compromisers. We either take the path of the online heresy hunter, burn you-at-the-stake-blogger, or we say nothing. We live Christian lives that are about as effective as Ned Flanders. We smile. We be nice. We stay positive about everything.

Wilkerson loved the church too much to take that approach. He understood that the scriptures are given for correction as well as comfort (2 Tim 3:16)

Today, in society, and church, there is a tendency to avoid confrontation. People are more concerned with being peace-keepers, than peace makers. Current wisdom says that correction is judgemental and silence is loving. That’s not biblical wisdom though, hear the heart of God through Wilkerson’s statement to the Assemblies of God.

I am not coming to you as a pastor but with a prophetic word. God so shook me recently with this message that I should bring it somewhere, sometime in Springfield. This morning the Lord, by His Spirit, spoke to my heart that this is the time. He has called me to be one of His watchmen, and I have wept over this and prayed that He will help me deliver the message in a spirit of love. This is not a chastisement but a warning for the Assemblies of God…. I pray that God will keep the Assemblies of God in its original purposes. In New York City, He has proved that the people come to hear a straight gospel, and thousands will come where the Word of God is being preached without compromise and yet with grace. May the young men who are discouraged in the Movement not try for a shortcut but be broken and on their faces before the Lord. May we get our eyes off growth and onto a new revelation of who Jesus is[2]

Wilkerson is speaking to the AoG in this sermon. And I’m in no way intending to single the AoG out. I think the principle is this, are we willing to speak truth, and have truth spoken to us, even if it is not comfortable? Do we value the wounds of a friend?

  1. The Centrality of Christ

Coming from the pentecostal movement, Wilkerson identified a tendency amongst some churches to emphasise the Spirit and neglect the Son. His sermon, A Christless Pentecost, is a powerful corrective to contemporary revival fads that blow through the church every few years.

When the Holy Spirit becomes the center of our attention, the church gets out of focus! The Holy Spirit descended upon Christ as He came out of baptismal waters, and the Father said of Him: “This is My beloved Son – In whom I am well pleased…” The Spirit descended bodily like a dove, but the focus was on the Lamb of God – who taketh away the sins of the world. Not the dove, but the Lamb![3]

  1. Warning against unhealthy ministry ambition

21st century ministry has a number of demands. Churches are looking for church planters, church revitalisers and pioneers. Wilkerson highlights the danger of selfish ambition in the ministry.

It is possible, through unholy ambition, to be transformed from a man of God, who has been seeking God and getting a word from heaven, to an unholy ambition and a tool of Satan. Let every pastor heed this warning: The moment you begin to consider the “competition,” seeds of accommodation will be planted in your heart. Suddenly, Satan will put in your path a wolf in sheep’s clothing—a man who will try to seduce you into ungodly ambition and achieving church growth at any cost. Yet the truth is, it could cost you your soul . . .You can get your big church and be one of the big boys, but it’s going to cost you your soul if you preach with a focus only on earthly things, rather than on the things of God.”[4].

  1. The need for discernment to protect us from deception

The very concepts of discernment and deception are foreign currency in the modern evangelical church. This itself is evidence that we are seeing an epidemic of deception and a famine of discernment. Wilkerson was a man who understood the times. He understood that not everything that had the name of ‘Jesus’ attached to it was actually the real deal.

I tremble when I read in the Scriptures that in the last days Satan is going to come right into the church posing as an angel of light. He’s going to take ministers who, at one time, had the touch of God, and he’s going to transform them into angels of light to become his tool of deception. That’s frightening. It causes me to fall on my face before God for such false, deceitful workers transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. No marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore, it’s no great thing if ministers also are transformed as the ministers of righteousness whose end shall be according to their works.[5]

  1. The for need anguish more than enthusiasm

One of the most powerful sermons I’ve ever listened to is David Wilkerson’s Call to Anguish. At a time when hype has eclipsed holiness, and marketing masquerades as mission, we need the deep groaning of God to be birthed in our souls.

Folks there’s a difference between concern and anguish. Cause you see you can tie yourself to a cause, you can get excited about it, or some project you can talk it up. You’ll go public with it, you can advertise it, you can support it, organize it, put a lot of effort into it. Let me tell you something I’ve learned over all my years 50 years of preaching, if it is not born in anguish, if it has not been born by the Holy Spirit, where what you saw and heard of the ruin that drove you to your knees took you down into a baptism of anguish where you began to pray and seek God. . . . You see a true prayer life begins at the place of anguish, a place where lifetime decisions are made. If you set your heart to pray God is going to come and start sharing his heart with you. He’s going to open up his heart. And I’ll tell you there’s pain in his heart. What he sees … and so few to hear. He’s going to show you the condition of his church. He’s going to show you the condition of your own heart, and he‘s going to ask you a question, “What is it to you?” And that anguished servant has to make a decision. And everyone hearing me now you’re going to have to make this decision. . . . You see you either walk away and go back to your passivity, you say I’m just going to be an ordinary Christian, and there’s no such thing.[6]

There is so much more that could be said and applied regarding the legacy of David Wilkerson and the need for his voice to be heard today. If you want to tap into this legacy, you may want to check out the following links.

http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=category&cid=12

http://www.worldchallenge.org/

May God do a fresh work in our individual lives, family homes, and local churches, in this day for his glory, the good of the church and salvation of the lost.

Sources

[1] Twelve Angels from Hell, David Wilkerson, p14

[2] The Dangers of the Gospel of Accommodation: A sermon given by David Wilkerson at an Assemblies of God headquarters chapel service. By David Wilkerson

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] A Call to Anguish (by David Wilkerson, 9/15/2002)