EMISSARY^7 (G²)

COMMISIONED by CHRIST 4 SHARING HIS LIFE/KEEPING IT REAL ADMIST THE LIES (II Cor. 5:17-21))

CHRISTIAN IDOL: Adressing the issue with IDOLATRY in our Lives (it’s alot easier than ya think…..)

Posted by Gabriel (G²) on January 28, 2008

And the Picture of the week is……..

Kowabungajeus

SURFIN’ with Jesus…….

 Others from back in the day……

Homelessjesus

Questions, folks?? Yes, it was humourous…….and Perhaps I’m trippn’n……but something doesn’t sit right with me on this.

I still think it’s interesting that in the same way Jesus was made into an ACTION-FIGURE suited to how one sees fit, that perhaps we do the same thing….

 Something on the subject by Mark Driscoll, in which he  speaks of his understanding of the problem of idolatry in the American culture and church.

 Also, if interested,

This is an Amercian Idol parody that someone made for a church Sunday School lesson about the golden calf in Exodus, and the ways in which we struggle with idolatry in our lives today…One man  play four of the parts. (less)

Also, for anyone interested, here’s something that should be intriguing. Specifically, in their words,

Hello and welcome to another broadcast of the White Horse Inn where we are launching our new year-long series, “Christless Christianity: The American Captivity of the Church.” In the last two programs we looked at Christless Christianity in general and Crossless Christianity which is really the heart of the problem as we are assessing it here. And then in this program we want to take a look at a specific example of what we are talking about. We realize an extreme example, but it does reflect a wider tendency and drift towards Christless Christianity that probably evangelicals would not have been attracted to in the 30s and 40s and 50s but today Joel Osteen is now considered an Evangelical leader.

If Charles Finney’s legacy helps us to understand how we arrived at the current crisis, Joel Osteen the Pastor of Lakewood church in Houston, Texas may be the clearest example in contemporary American religion. Name it/claim it, heath and wealth, or prosperity gospel, these are nicknames for a heresy that in many respects is an extreme version of perhaps the most typical focus of American Christianity today more generally. Basically God’s there for you and your happiness. He has some rules, and principles for getting what you want out of life and if you follow them you can have what you want. Just declare it and prosperity will come to you. Although explicit proponents of the so-called “prosperity gospel” may be fewer than their influence suggests, its big names and best-selling authors, T.D. Jakes, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer are purveyors of a pagan world-view with a peculiarly American flavor. Its basically what Martin Luther called the “theology of glory.” How can I climb the ladder and attain the glory here and now that God has actually promised for us after a life of suffering. The contrast is the “theology of the cross.” The story of God’s merciful descent to us at great personal cost, the message the Apostle Paul acknowledged was offensive and foolishness to Greeks.

Every few years a religions best-seller sweeps the nation with the message of self-help. Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive-Thinking, Robert Schuller’s TV ministry and series of best-sellers, Bruce Wilkinson’s The Prayer of Jabez, and other sensations have come and gone. Each time the media treats the appearance of a work in this vein as though it were a new phenomenon, but the success of this genre has long been established. The attractions of Americans to this version of the glory story is evident in the astonishing success of Joel Osteen’s runaway best-seller Your Best Life Now: Seven Steps to Living at Your Full Potential and the sequel, the recently released Become a Better You. Beyond his charming personality and folksy style, Osteen’s phenomenal attraction is no doubt related to his simple and soothing sampler of the American gospel–a blend of Christian and cultural elements that he picked up not through any formal training but as the son of Baptist, turned prosperity evangelist, who was a favorite on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. However, gone are the eccentric caricatures of prosperity tele-evangelism with it flamboyant style and over the top rhetoric, and bad hair. At least in the televised broadcasts of his services there are no healing lines with people falling or fainting when the preacher blows on them. He doesn’t send blessed prayer cloths or speak endlessly of sowing seed in his ministry in order to reap their desired miracle.
The pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, which now owns the Compaq Center, and is now the largest church in America does not come across as a flashing evangelist with jets and yachts , but as a charming next door neighbor who always has something nice to say. However Joel Osteen is definitely a leader of a new generation of prosperity evangelists. His explicit drumbeat of health and wealth, or word-faith teaching is communicated in the terms and the ambiance that might be difficult to distinguish from most mega-churches and other seeker driven ministries. In this broadcast we are going to take a look at Joel Osteen as an example of that increasing creeping fog that we are calling Christless Christianity.

You can read Michael Horton’s review of Osteen’s Become a Better You here:
http://lanechaplin.blogspot.com/2007/…
http://www.whitehorseinn.org (less)

 

       As far as commentary goes, I wanted to share this very POWERFUL article on the subject that I believe deals with the subject, specifically on EXODUS 32 and how the people at one point tried to make God in their image:

Moreover, what immediately came to my mind was what happened with Jeroboam in the Book Kings. As Bible.Org makes clear,:

http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=4848

Jeroboam

Jeroboam played a much more active role in the spiritual decline of the northern kingdom of Israel:

25 Jeroboam built up Shechem in the Ephraimite hill country and lived there. From there he went out and built up Penuel. 26 Jeroboam then thought to himself: “Now the Davidic dynasty could regain the kingdom. 27 If these people go up to offer sacrifices in the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem, their loyalty could shift to their former master, King Rehoboam of Judah. They might kill me and return to King Rehoboam of Judah.” 28 After the king had consulted with his advisers, he made two golden calves. Then he said to the people, “It is too much trouble for you to go up to Jerusalem. Look, Israel, here are your gods who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” 29 He put one in Bethel and the other in Dan. 30 This caused Israel to sin; the people went to Bethel and Dan to worship the calves. 31 He built temples on the high places and appointed as priests people who were not Levites. 32 Jeroboam inaugurated a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the festival celebrated in Judah. On the altar in Bethel he offered sacrifices to the calves he had made. In Bethel he also appointed priests for the high places he had made (1 Kings 12:25-32).

There is something very ironic about Jeroboam’s reign. God had promised Jeroboam that his kingdom would last and that he would be very successful, if he only obeyed His commandments:

38 You must obey all I command you to do, follow my instructions, do what I approve, and keep my rules and commandments, like my servant David did. Then I will be with you and establish for you a lasting dynasty, as I did for David; I will give you Israel. 39 I will humiliate David’s descendants because of this, but not forever” (1 Kings 11:38-39).

Jeroboam listened to his advisors rather than to God (1 Kings 12:28). Jeroboam was afraid that he would lose his kingdom, and even his life. He feared that the divided kingdom would re-unite. In order to protect himself and his kingdom, he established a counterfeit religion for the northern kingdom of Israel.

Everything Jeroboam did flew in the face of Israel’s history and of God’s law. His great fear was that the people of Israel would worship in Jerusalem, as God had instructed. If they did, Jeroboam reasoned, the people of Israel would shift their loyalty to Rehoboam, king of Judah. The solution Jeroboam and his advisors reached was to establish a counterfeit religion – a religion very much like the worship God had ordained for His people, but one which kept the people of Israel from returning to Jerusalem, and worse yet, turned them to idolatry.

Jeroboam made two golden calves, one located in Bethel at the southern part of his kingdom, and the other located in Dan in the northern portion of Israel. His words at the presentation of these idols are all too familiar:

After the king had consulted with his advisers, he made two golden calves. Then he said to the people, “It is too much trouble for you to go up to Jerusalem. Look, Israel, here are your gods who brought you up from the land of Egypt” (1 Kings 12:28, emphasis mine).

Jeroboam’s words should be familiar to the reader of the Old Testament:

7 And the Lord spoke to Moses: “Go, descend, because your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have acted corruptly. 8 They have turned aside quickly from the way that I commanded them—they have made for themselves a molten calf, and have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘ These are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt’” (Exodus 32:7-8, emphasis mine).

Is it possible that these words are merely coincidental, or is Jeroboam exceedingly wicked? Is he saying, in effect, “You think that Aaron led Israel in worship; just watch me!”? It seems virtually impossible for Jeroboam not to have known that he was leading Israel to disobey God by his worshipper-friendly religion.

His religious revisions were not limited to golden calves. Jeroboam built temples on the high places. He appointed men to serve as priests who were not Levites. He instituted feasts that were designed to replace the divinely appointed Jewish feasts (especially those which required the Israelites to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem). All-in-all, Jeroboam created a counterfeit religion. It was one that imitated the Canaanite religions. It was one that appealed to the people of Israel. It was one that turned the Israelites away from the worship of the one true God. Jeroboam therefore becomes the standard by which other evil kings are measured:

33 In the third year of Asa’s reign over Judah, Baasha son of Ahijah became king over all Israel in Tirzah; he ruled for twenty-four years. 34 He did evil before the Lord; he followed in Jeroboam’s footsteps and encouraged Israel to sin (1 Kings 15:33-34; see also 16:2, 19; 22:52).

Jeroboam did this, supposing that it would preserve and promote his reign as king over the northern kingdom. In reality, it did just the opposite. Even after being rebuked for his sins, Jeroboam persisted in his evil ways, which prompted divine judgment:

7 Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘This is what the Lord God of Israel says: “I raised you up from among the people and made you ruler over my people Israel. 8 I tore the kingdom away from the Davidic dynasty and gave it to you. But you are not like my servant David, who kept my commandments and followed me wholeheartedly by doing only what I approve. 9 You have sinned more than all who came before you. You went and angered me by making other gods, formed out of metal; you have completely disregarded me. 10 So I am ready to bring disaster on the dynasty of Jeroboam. I will cut off every last male belonging to Jeroboam in Israel, including even the weak and incapacitated. I will burn up the dynasty of Jeroboam, just as one burns manure until it is completely consumed. 11 Dogs will eat the ones who die in the city, and the birds of the sky will eat the ones who die in the country.”’ Indeed the Lord has announced it (1 Kings 14:7-11).

 

 

 

 Needless to say, that has always intrigued me……for how often have we done the same exact thing?? For example, some ideas may lead you away from God in either acting contrary to His commands or seeing Him in a light not reflective of who He really is……but because the idea seems PRACTICAL, the suggestion is often heeded……..

 

     Or better yet, how often due to our own fears/worries and desires we basically RE-MAKE THE STANDARDs IN ORDER TO SUIT US……BUT ALSo make it not completelty obvious…..keeping enough of the real deal so that we think we’re worshipping the real deal??

 

 

 

Let’s take it a little closer to home since many people (Myself included) have often thought we’re incapable of idolatry due to our calling out sin and claiming the name of Christ…..

 

 

In a permissive society, how easy is for Christians to overlook or tolerate some immoral behaviors more than others (i.e. greed, drunkeness, gossip/slander, etc) while remaining outraged at others (homosexuality, racisim, theivery, etc)…i.e. KEEPING THE ONES THAT ARE SOCIALBLY ACCEPTABLE..

….

That’s the problem with identifying/coming against sin without looking to God’s Word to see his heart and what he feels on it. You end up justifying one sin while calling out another and thinking you’re in the clear (i.e. “Hey, I’m speaking the truth and it needs to be heard” yet blatalantly ignoring other things that God says need to be heard as well since both are dangerous, I Corinthians 6:9-10, Proverbs 6:16-19, etc.)….AND IN THE PROCESS, you’ve committed IDOLATRY DUE TO YOU NOT BEING WILLING TO TRULY ACKNOWLEDGE THE LORD FOR WHO HE IS/WHAT HE’S ABOUT.

You’vre simply been worshipping a GOD OF YOUR OWN MAKING….

Just as we cannot condone or participate in sin in any way, we cannot be selective about what we condemn or excuse, and that’s the thing that’s dangerous. In the process of calling out and doing so much good (as those from the Great Awakening did or others like them today), one can easily get to the point where they no longer are ruthless on other sins as well that are causing the overall problem.

Aint nothin’ new under the sun, Brah………(Ecclesiastes 1:9)

As I’m discovering, when there’s sin/issues in my personal life that I’m don’t wish to deal with because it’d cause me to have to make many uncomfortable adjustments, I tend to look for another wrong/issue in the life of another to deal with…….which in the process will make me feel less uncomfortable with myself and even encouraged because I’m dealing with another issue…….

That, IMHO, could be equated to a good degree with the attitude of the Pharisees…..who had many theological things in place, but it was never PRACTICAL FOR THEM. They were obediant to many points in the law and even went to the point where they added on things, yet they were DISOBEDIAN IN THEIR GENERAL BEHAVIOR…….and the weighter matters on issue such as JUSTICE, MERCY, and LOVE WERE IGNORED ALTOGETHER due to all of the other righteous actions they were seeking to adress (Matthew 23):

Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

Matthew 23:23
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

The Pharisses were PRACTICING IDOLATRY, PLAIN AND SIMPLE……FOR THEIR DEFINITION OF THE SAVIOR as evidenced by their PRACTICES WAS NOT IN LINE WITH THE SAVIOR’S DEFINITION….I remember having a discussion on another website on what things were ESSENTIAL TO THE FAITH…..and most of the answers given were things regarding DOCTRINE/THEOLOGICAL TRUTH.

When I brought up behavior as an essential, it didn’t appear to be taken seriously. That surprised me, seeing that the Word of God makes clear that without emphazing that as well, you only have HALF OF THE EQUATION for dealing with issues in tact…….

 Does anyone want another example in how we commit idolatry all of the time? Consider this

”Proverbs 28:9
If anyone turns a deaf ear to the law, even his prayers are detestable.

James 1:22-27

22Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror 24and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

26If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. 27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Luke 14:7-11

7When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8″When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’

Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

12Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, 14and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”

Question: How often have any of us speaking against Prosperity teachers (with valid reasons, of course) done what this passage is describing? DID IT HAPPEN AT THANKSGIVING DINNER? How about planning for this UPCOMING CHRISTMAS (at your house, )?

You rarely hear about events like this taking place (except at a shelter, though even there it generally the case that EVERYONE’S ON THE SAME LEVEL…..& rarely would you see this happening at a CHURCH SOCIAL.

In all honesty, if a poor man walked into a church during a church social at most modern day churches, that man would probably be passed up, escorted OFF THE PREMISES for fear that “He might steal something or just wants to get a hand-out” or avoided because of stereotypes (i.e “He may be dirty so don’t get too close…..”, or “He looks scary…”)

How many would go up, give the man a hug, and give him the SEAT OF HONOR? More often than not, he would not be placed besides those within the middle class but at the end of the table…..and probably most people wouldn’t have any compassion on his situation. They would talk amongst themselves regarding life and theological issues……& even perhaps the FOLLY SEEN ON TBN as a DISGRACE TO THE GOSPEL (ironic ISN’T IT, )

Moreover, most people would never stop to consider that many people who were at the poverty line were once MIDDLE CLASS THEMSELVES. I remember having a conversation with someone who was homeless and it was amazing to hear their stories.

I had NO IDEA that this man was once a PASTOR, Married, and in ministry…..but his wife became involved in sin, kicked him out the house, and he was struggling looking for a job. And yet most people driving by would never even talk to him but dare speak out against the SINS IN THE MODERN CHURCH!!!!!!!

As another wisely said,

  “That description fits the large majority of Americans who attend churches. Even if they aren’t wearing “fine clothes,” it is only because they chose to leave their fine clothes at home. Once again we are faced with the fact that by biblical standards we are rich, even though we may not be by American standards.

The sin James addresses here is the sin of showing partiality. When a rich person receives favored treatment over a poor person, the second greatest commandment is broken (see 2:8). One is not loving his neighbor as himself. He is not treating the poor person as he wants to be treated.
James questions why such partiality would be shown. Why would we automatically honor a rich man and dishonor a poor man, both of whom we know nothing about, when we know what God esteems and despises? We know that God loves the poor, having special compassion for them, choosing them to be “rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom” (2:5).

Indeed, God has chosen “the base things of the world and the despised…the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are” (1 Cor. 1:28). In contrast, the rich are often guilty of sins that arouse God’s anger, not the least of which is their explointing the poor, whom He loves so much, in order to enrich themselves. They also often blaspheme God’s name (see 2:6-8). Thus how foolish it is to honor automatically a rich man and dishonor a poor man based on no other criteria than their apparent wealth or poverty. If we are to err in the matter, better to err by honoring the poor over the rich.

In most instances, the rich man is likely to be far from God, while the poor man is more likely to respond to God’s love. Not knowing what is in the heart of either, however, we should honor them both with good seats when they visit our gathering……… The only reason that someone would show partiality to the rich is because of an evil motive, probably the hope of personal gain (see 2:4). As Solomon astutely observed, “Wealth adds many friends….and every man is a friend to him who gives gifts” (Proverbs 19:4, Proverbs 19:6). This phenomenon can be easily observed in American churches, where pastors often yield to the temptation of showing favoritism to those with the most wealth.”http://www.shepherdserve.org/ttne/ttne_09.htm

‘Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.

Proverbs 14:31
He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.

Proverbs 21:13
If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered.

Proverbs 22:2
Rich and poor have this in common: The LORD is the Maker of them all.

 I could rail all day about how some minister is manipulating people financially……and how they’re  exploting/dishonoring the poor…..& yet if I’m choosing the more sociallbly acceptable sin of showing FAVORTISM in wanting to associate moreso with people on MY ECONOMIC LEVEL, I’M JUST AS GUILTY….and MY VERSION OF GODLINESS IS NO MORE HONORING OF THE LORD THAN THEIR’S….

James 2

Favoritism Forbidden

1My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. 2Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. 3If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

5Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

8If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right. 9But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,”[b] also said, “Do not murder.”[c] If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

12Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

The point it this: ARE YOUR STANDARDS TRULY IN LINE WITH GOD’S????  Because if they’re not and we’re blantantly going against it, THAT’S IDOLATRY!!! Something else has been set in the place of who the Lord truly is!!!

If interested, it’d probably be best for saints to study the OT (specifically, the Books of I-II Kings and Chronicles), as it was just as messy as the political landscape is today/IN TIMES PAST (such as in the Great Awakening)….and QUITE REMINISIENT .

  • Remember Jehu (II Kings 9-10 )?I’ve always found it funny the man was raised up by the Lord to call out/repay the wickedness of Ahab/destroy his evil influence…..and yet so much error was BLATANTLY tolerated in his side of the street.Minus the fact that the man went FAR beyond the Lord’s command with his senseless slaughter/bloodbath (which he was denounced for later by the prophet Hosea, Hosea 1:4-5)The man eliminated one form of idolatry, Baal worship, only to uphold another by continuing to worship the golden calves Jeroboam had set up which CAUSED THE FALL OF ISRAEL TO BEGIN WITH:

    I Kings 12:25-33

    1 Kings 13-14

    II Chronicles 13

    When studying the actions of Jehu, one quickly realizes that his motives were also political (if not morseo) than spiritual.

    If he had destroyed the golden calves, his people would’ve traveled to the temple in Jerusalem, in the rival southern kingdom, and worshipped there (which is why Jeroboam set them up in the first place).

    Baal worship was associated with the dynasty of Ahab, so it was politically ADVANTAGEOUS to destroy Baal. The golden calves, on the other hand, had a longer history in the northern kingdom and were validated by ALL POLITICAL FACTIONS.Baal Worship was anti-GOD (IN THE OBVIOUS SENSE), BUT THe golden calves were thought by many to be the visible representations of God himself, even though God’s law clearly stated that such worship was idolatrous (Exodus 20:3-6)( Exodus 32)

    As the Word shows, Jehu was devoted to God only to the point that obediance served his own interests….and like Jehu, the same is happening today when men in the name of GODLINESS are denouncing the sins of others/rallying the church for certain causes while excusing sin in their own lives or going against MANY OF THE STANDARDS IN GOD’S WORD THAT THE KINGDOM OF GOD ARE ALL ABOUT.

    Consequently, you’re often left wondering why there is still mess taking place in the camp……

  • The Point again being: ARE OUR STANDARDS TRULY IN LINE WITH THE LORD’S???!!!………If I really wish to conform to His image, then I need to make certain that I know His standards and not simply a “remix” of many He has into my own form. Would I attend a church that had correct doctrine and yet tolerated things that EVERYBODY SEEMS FINE WITH SUCH AS GOSSIP— Or would I attend a church that tolerated things such as a lack of compassion, graciousness, and love for others simply because they had doctrine CORRECT? Or that rarely gave to provide for the needs of others?Would I attend a church that has promoted the idolatry of FAVORTISM?

    1 Cor. 1:10-31

    by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to agree together, to end your divisions, and to be united by the same mind and purpose. For members of Chloe’s household have made it clear to me, my brothers and sisters, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each of you is saying, “I am with Paul,” or “I am with Apollos,” or “I am with Cephas,” or “I am with Christ.” Is Christ divided? Paul wasn’t crucified for you, was he? Or were you in fact baptized in the name of Paul?

    Let’s call a spade a spade:

    1 Thessalonians 5:13
    Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other.

    However, When I as a Christian take pride in the fact that study the teachings of people like John Piper and that I highly esteem him and yet I’m constantly boasting of how solid they are….and yet I look down upon others not holding to where they stand, that may be me commiting a sin of FAVORTISM…

    And the same thing when people are proud that they as individuals or their church follows CALVIN….or ARMIUS, George WHITFIELD, John Owen, John Bunyan, Oswald Chambers…AND THEY KNOW ALL OF THEIR ARGUMENTS and yet are more loyal to studying them than CHRIST/HIS WORD AND SPREADING THE GOSPEL….would I attend a church like that and be COOL? Or would I be cool attending a church where they put down other believers who are dilligently seeking to spread the work of the Kingdom of God and be faithful to the Gospel simply because they do not belong to the same camp (i.e. “I’m a Cessationist, you’re a Charismatic….I’m Baptist, you’re Pentacostal, I’m Prebysterian, you’re Methodist….& therefore I wouldn’t reference you as someone I could learn from or who is actually aiding the Body, etc)?

    Again, would I be cool with GOING to a church that maintains what’s basically a Exclusivism (those who think themselves superior to all other believers because they follow Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or Christ. or some other teacher)?

  • With any of the things mentioned, would I be cool with it or would I be disturbed?

    For even if the sin doesn’t seem as OBVIOUS/UGLY as other sins such as being a pedophile or child molester, it’s still UGLY TO THE LORD……..and it makes no difference to exchange one form of idolatry/sin for another…..

     

     

    As Bible.Org makes clear,

     

     http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=158

    We may think that idolatry is one sin which the Christian need not concern himself about today, at least in enlightened evangelical America. To the contrary, idolatry is also a very common sin and one which is frequently practiced by Christians today. It only differs in the form which it takes. Let us pursue this matter of idolatry further, seeking to better define it in principle and in practice.

    Idolatry in Principle

    (1) Idolatry makes something other than God one’s “god.”

    (2) Among God’s people idolatry often involves the worship of something or someone other than God as though it were God. A polytheistic culture may worship any number of “gods,” but Israel’s religion is monotheistic, which means she can worship only one God. The heathen may worship their “gods” by whatever name they wish; Israel can worship a “god” only by the name of Yahweh. Israel’s idolatry is a more insidious variety because it can appear to be the worship of the true God, when, in fact, it is the worship of some other “god” in the name of the true God. This idolatry is, by far, the most dangerous, and the most prevalent among Christians. It looks and sounds so pious, but is misdirected. It has the “appearance of godliness” but not its purity or power (cf. 2 Tim. 3:5).

     

    (3) Idolatry can be either conscious or unconscious, deliberate or defacto. In Exodus 32 Israel’s idolatry is both conscious and deliberate. In other instances, idolatry may be practiced without actually knowing what is happening.

     

    (4) Idolatry seeks to replace what cannot be seen with something that can be seen—it is physically oriented. Thus the underlying issue of idolatry is faith, since faith focuses on what is not seen: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1; cf. 2 Cor. 5:7; Heb. 11:27).

    Idolatry attempts to replace something invisible or perceived as absent with something present and visible. Ironically, while the problem was one of seeing God, He was visibly present behind them, on the mountain. Ironically, as well, it was what the Israelites “saw” that was wrong, and which got them into trouble.73 We say, “Seeing is believing,” but for the Christian the opposite may be true.

    Thomas believed only because he had seen our Lord, but the risen Lord said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (John 20:29). For those who have not seen the risen Lord, we nevertheless have the promise of His presence with us, so that we do not need visible tokens (idols) of His presence: “… and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Deut. 31:6; Josh. 1:5; Heb. 13:5).

     

    (5) Idolatry is a very dangerous temptation for the New Testament saint, for the circumstances of today are very similar to those found in our text in ancient Israel. There are some remarkable parallels between the situation which Israel faced at this point in her history and that faced by the church. The more we understand these parallels, the more we will grasp the possibilities for practicing idolatry today.

    In the Book of Exodus, God had come down, manifesting Himself to men. In particular, a handful of Israel’s leaders had seen God and had undoubtedly communicated what they saw to the rest of the nation. Moses, God’s appointed leader then was called up and away from the people, but they were nevertheless left with clear instructions from God regarding their conduct. Without their visible leader, Israel fashioned one of their own making, thus breaking their covenant with God and disobeying His Law.

    In a similar way, God came down and manifested Himself to men in the person of Jesus Christ. A few of the leaders of the church saw Him, both before and after His death, burial, and resurrection, and they reported these things to men (cf. Heb. 1:1-3; 2:3-4). Our Lord was then taken up into heaven (from a mountain) and the church was left behind, with clear instructions as to how God wants us to live (the Bible). In His absence, Christians are tempted to look for something or someone visible to assure them of God’s presence and power. One form of idolatry will be the subject of our further inquiry.

     

     

    (6) Idolatry is a matter of leadership,74 since ultimately whatever we serve is our “god” and whatever is our “god” is what we follow. Put in simplest terms, people choose their gods in order to follow after them. Thus, our gods are our leaders. Conversely, we must be very careful about who we choose as our leaders and how we view them. Just as our gods become our leaders, our leaders can become our gods.

    One of the things which I have learned from my study of Israel’s idolatry in Exodus chapter 32 is that there is a very clear and direct relationship between leadership and idolatry. There was a cause-effect relationship between the absence of Moses and the act of idolatry described in our text.

    To practice idolatry one does not need a graven image. There are times when our idols are people. One case of idolatry which is both significant in the history of Israel and relevant to Christians today is found in the Book of 1 Samuel:

    And it came about when Samuel was old that he appointed his sons judges over Israel. … His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice. Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah; and they said to him, “Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them. Like all the deeds which they have done since the day that I brought them up from Egypt even to this dayin that they have forsaken Me and served other godsso they are doing to you also.” … Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, “No, but there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Samuel 8:1, 3-8, 19-20, emphasis mine).

    Notice the ways in which these events, which occurred several centuries later than the exodus, parallel the idolatry of the worship of the golden calf in Exodus 32.

     

    First, both accounts clearly identify the sin committed as idolatry. Second, both involve Israel’s leadership, having someone or something to “go before the people.” Third, in both cases, the Israelites were rejecting God’s appointed leadership and establishing a leader of their own. Fourth, in both cases, the people are acting the same and are imitating their culture, rather than obeying God by being a distinct people.

    The contribution which this passage in 1 Samuel makes is a significant one because it shows us that idolatry can be practiced by exalting men too highly, and looking to them, rather than to God. There was no golden calf in this incident between God, Samuel, and the people of Israel, only a king. But it is clear in the context that the kind of king Israel wanted was to be a “god” to them, an idol, not of gold but of flesh. Just as the Israelites of Moses’ day wanted a golden image to “go before them,” taking the place of God’s leader, and ultimately, the place of God Himself. To reject God’s established form of leadership is to reject God’s leadership.

    This matter of Israel wanting a king is very relevant to 20th century Christianity. You and I, in our culture, are not likely to melt down our jewelry, cast a golden image, and fall before it in worship. We are, however, very likely to look to some human leader in a way that one should only look to God. The idolatry of Samuel’s day, while similar in essence to that of Moses’ day, is much more likely the form idolatry will take in contemporary Christian circles.

     

    This is apparent in the idolatry of both Exodus 32 and 1 Samuel chapter 8. Whenever we look to men, giving to them what only belongs to God, or looking to them for what only God can give, we are idolaters. We have made our leaders our gods, just as Israel did in Samuel’s day. We look to them instead of God. We have expectations and demands of them which are only rightly directed toward God.

     

     

     

     

     

     

       Will share more later…..

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