I sincerely hope everyone goes out and buy a copy of this new magazine? There is a very interesting article op Pg 12 on the “Triumphant Church”. Journalist Liesl Pyper looks specifically at Charismatic and Pentecostal Churches within Africa and investigates the core pulse of their amazing growth. She basically asks the question: “Why is Christianity growing in Africa?” Allow me to highlight her words with the following brief summary: “Early Christianity in Europe thrived because people fought for survival. Life as we know it has changed drastically. In the West survival is almost guaranteed for everyone…” and so this “one reason that has drawn people to religion is gone. (Ronald Inglehart)” “The same reason explains maybe why Christianity in Africa is growing – and why Charismatic Churches with their message of hope, prosperity and success boast weekly with larger congregations.” Ghanaian Academic Michael Perry Kweku Okeyrefo writes in his study on Pentecostalism “People in Sub-Saharan Africa choose Charismatic & Pentecostal Churches… because they preach a prosperity gospel that ensures them with health & riches. The impoverished circumstances create a material and spiritual need where upon the charismatic Churches thrive! By 2050 Africa will be the new hub for Christianity, wrote Phillip Jenkins author of “The next Christendom.” But how rich are some of these preachers in Africa? Bishop David Oyedepo of the “Living faith World Outreach Ministry” in an estimation is worth about R1, 2 Billion. Pastor Chris Oyakhilome of the “Christ Embassy Church” is estimated between R231 million to R385 million. T.B.Joshua of the “Synagogue Church of all nations” is estimated between R77 million to R116 million.
The story is told of an occasion where Thomas Aquinas was walking with a prelate through one of the grand cathedrals of his day. Referring to a coffer filled with precious coins, the prelate remarked, “Behold, Master Thomas, the church can no longer say, as St. Peter, ‘Silver and gold have I none!’” Thomas was apparently quick with his retort, “Alas, neither can we say what follows, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ, rise up and walk.’ Being blessed is not a Sin! Using the gospel for gain is! There is a huge difference between churchianity & Christianity! Many people today are going to Church but very few are going down the narrow road that leads to life! (Matthew 7:13-14). Jesus makes it crystal clear that many will name the Name of Christ (2 Tim. 2:19) and claim to be Christians but few understand what a Christian really is. Many will be religious but only few are in actual relationship with Jesus doing His will! The church globally has come a long way from the catacomb to the cathedral… it’s a real rags-to-riches story. But the Words of Jesus in Luke 9:23:”deny self, pick up your cross and follow me” is replaced by “find self, I will pick up the cheque & follow you…” Religion was supposed to come to an end at the cross. But like we see today, Religion produces BIG bucks…
F. D. Srygley said “Christianity has never prospered under the system of organized religion. The thorns of worldly vanity have always choked the seed and smothered the spirit of Christianity in ecclesiastical organizations. Periods of great revivalistic zeal and evangelistic fervor have always been seasons of individual effort and personal consecration, where men and women were unhampered by ecclesiastical organization.” Christianity is unique in the fact that it is the ONLY faith which is not a religion- as a ‘religion’- by definition means “to be bound” by rules and regulations and rituals in order that one may attain salvation. (whatever their definition of salvation may be) This is in stark contrast to the teachings of the most anti-religious person there ever lived- Jesus the Christ. Jesus taught that the truth would set you free and that it would be faith alone in His sacrificial death and resurrection for our sins which would save us and not our good deeds. “For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved, through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s GIFT, so that no one can boast about it.” (Ephesians 2: 8-9) This means that (although good in themselves and recommended) it is NOT by attending ‘church’, being baptized or even believing in God! (Satan is not an atheist himself!)
To put it plainly: We are saved by faith and demonstrated by good works- but it isn’t the works themselves that actually save us. Paul exhorts us: “His choice is based on His grace, not on what they have done. For if God’s choice was based on what people do, then His grace would not be real grace.” (Romans 11:6)
The Difference between Churchianity & Biblical Christianity:
1. Religion is law-like/Christianity is Christ Like. Ernst Kasemann notes that, “Jesus broke through the piety and theology of his contemporaries, and brought God’s promise and love in place of the Mosaic law, his own endowment with the Spirit in place of the Jewish tradition, clarity about God’s will in place of casuistry, and grace in place of good works.” The religious man is busy working following a system of doing good works in order to be saved. The saved person is “not working” but is resting upon the finished work of another. Paul affirms in Romans 4:5 (AMP) “But to one who, not working [by the Law], trusts (believes fully) in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited to him as righteousness (the standing acceptable to God).”
2. Religion aims to entertain or play/Christianity enters into the heart of the Father and prays. Church services should never become a form of entertainment nor a means to ones selfish end! Seeker sensitive is simply finding a new fad to make Jesus more accessible. We should also realize that Jesus is attractive by himself! Not because we make Him great, but because he is simple great! John MacArthur writes “The kingdom does not advance by human cleverness. It does not advance because we have gained position of power and influence in the culture. It doesn’t advance thanks to media popularity or opinion polls. It doesn’t advance on the back of public favor. The kingdom of God advance by the power of God alone, in spite of public hostility. When we truly proclaim it in its fullness, the saving message of Jesus Christ is, frankly, outrageously offensive.” Dan Myers in his book “All God’s children and Blue suede shoes” writes “Entertainment reaches out to us where we are, puts on its show then leaves us essentially unchanged, if a bit poorer in time and money. It does not (and usually does not claim to) offer us any new perspective on our lives.” Neal Postman in his book “Amusing ourselves to death” writes “Christianity is a demanding and serious religion. When it is delivered as easy and amusing, it is another kind of religion all together.” Hebrews 5:14 “But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law.”
3. Religion focus on what other people are doing/ Christianity focus on what God has done. Religion is man hoping to save himself by trying to please God. Christianity is God saving hopeless man in spite of our imperfections. Religion seems to equate function with friendship with Father God! Religion becomes more concerned about orthopraxy “doing” than orthodoxy “believing”. When our agenda drives the kingdom agenda we become like the Prodigal Son who went to his Father and asked “Give me”! But we should realize that the Father gave, and in return the Son returned and asked “Make me!” As Paul said to Timothy 1 Tim. 1:15 (AMP) “The saying is sure and true and worthy of full and universal acceptance, that Christ Jesus (the Messiah) came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost.”
4. Religion lives up to the grace & favor of God/Christianity lives from the grace and favor of God. Brennan Manning writes in his book “A Furious longing for God.” “How is it then that we’ve come to imagine that Christianity consists primarily in what we do for God? How has this come to be the good news of Jesus? Is the Kingdom that He proclaimed to be nothing more than a community of men and women who go to church on Sunday, take an annual spiritual retreat, read their Bibles every now and then, vigorously oppose abortion, don’t watch x-rated movies, never use vulgar language, smile a lot, hold doors open for people, root for the favorite team, and get along with everybody? Is that why Jesus went through the bleak and bloody horror of Calvary? Is that why He emerged in shattering glory from the tomb? Is that why He poured out His Holy Spirit on the church? To make nicer men and women with better morals? The gospel is absurd and the life of Jesus meaningless unless we believe that He lived, died, and rose again with but one purpose in mind: to make brand new creations… to create a community of prophets and professional lovers, men and women who would surrender to the mystery of the fire of the Spirit that burns within, who would live in ever greater fidelity to the omnipresent word of God, who would enter into the center of it all, the very heart and mystery of Christ, into the center of the flame that consumes, purifies, and sets everything aglow with peace, joy, boldness, and extravagant, furious love… Our religion never begins with what we do for God. It always starts with what God has done for us, the great and wondrous things that God dreamed of and achieved for us in Christ Jesus.” Religion is humanity trying to reach God by their own efforts. Christianity is God paying the price Himself- in essence- reaching down to us…it is a relationship with our creator. The religious person is always TRYING to live it up. The Christian is TRUSTING upon Christ to live. Acts 16:31 (AMP)”And they answered, Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ [give yourself up to Him, take yourself out of your own keeping and entrust yourself into His keeping] and you will be saved, [and this applies both to] you and your household as well.”
5. Religion judges truth by experiences/ Christianity judge experiences by truth. In a article of “The Sun” Newspaper: Sat 10 March 2012 I saw the following article : “I know when a child is a witch. Their eyes shine like a cat.” “Church leader MAMA LUCIE THE church was only just standing held up with wonky wooden poles and covered in rusty corrugated iron. We found it deep in one of the slums in Kinshasa, the sprawling capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo… After the main church service there was a long queue of people handing over money in exchange for spiritual treatment. A middle-aged lady came in complaining of headaches. The witchdoctor began by throwing water over her head, then clamping his lips on to it. It sounds bizarre but the witchdoctor was taking it very seriously. It was designed to suck out the evil spirits. To prove to the patient this was working, he took pebbles and string from his mouth. Then the other witchdoctor stepped in, said a short prayer and then took over the head sucking. As he lifted his head, he produced a bullet. The theory is that the witches had put the items there and this was the cause of her headaches. The leader of this church, who oversees the young witchdoctors, is the formidable Mama Lucie. The 50 or so members of the congregation were captivated by her frantic dancing. She told us she had the call from God as an eight-year-old girl and now had the power to heal. And she could tell when a child is “possessed”. She told us: “You see by their eyes. The eyes shine like a cat. It has a white color and that tells me they are a witch.” If the Church builds their teaching on experience rather than understanding that authentic experience happens in response to truth they go into error. I am bewildered and even shocked at what we see in our Churches today?
Here are just a few things:
Toking the Ghost or doing bible lines.
Drinking in the cemetery.
Out of body experiences.
The author of Hebrews gives us the following warning (13:9) “Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings” & v/17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you”. Paul affirms in 1 Corinthians 15:33-34(ESV) “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals. Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.” May we NOT become what this 13the Century sage wrote about when he said:
“Jesus has always many who love His heavenly kingdom, but few who bear His cross. He has many who desire consolation, but few who care for trial. He finds many to share His table, but few to take part in His fasting. All desire to be happy with Him; few wish to suffer anything for Him. Many follow Him to the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the chalice of His passion. Many revere His miracles; few approach the shame of the Cross. Many love Him as long as they encounter no hardship; many praise and bless Him as long as they receive some comfort from Him. But if Jesus hides Himself and leaves them for a while, they fall either into complaints or into deep dejection. Those, on the contrary, who love Him for His own sake and not for any comfort of their own, bless Him in all trial and anguish of heart as well as in the bliss of consolation. Even if He should never give them consolation, yet they would continue to praise Him and wish always to give Him thanks. What power there is in pure love for Jesus — love that is free from all self-interest and self-love!” (Few love the cross of Jesus by Thomas a Kempis. (1379 -1471) Author of the Imitation of Christ.)
May these words sink in!
Rudolph P. Boshoff