On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther nailed a copy of his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle church. These 95 Theses were written because of Luther’s fervent belief that scripture dictated two truths that had been wholly perverted by the Church in his time:
1. The Bible, not men, is the central religious authority
2. The salvation of a person’s soul is only by God’s grace through their faith in Jesus Christ and cannot be earned by any deed of men
Luther’s 95 Theses were written as a response to the Catholic Church selling “indulgences” to absolve sin– which basically means people were encouraged by the church to purchase their own forgiveness, all proceeds of those purchases benefitting the Church. It was these 95 Theses that eventually led to the Protestant Reformation, which led to the division of the Christian Church even to this day. Once again, in this Laodicean Church age, the Church finds itself in gross neglect of obedience and adherence to scripture. Once again, the larger portion of the Church has given precedence to the traditions, formulas and programs of men, over Jesus’ simple plan of discipleship and Lordship salvation. Agenda has become more important than relationship, the sheep are starving and they don’t even know it.
Once again it has become necessary to hammer a ledger of charges against the church door. And although I am a lowly nobody, tucked away in a quiet corner of the Southern US, I bring these charges against the church to bear record in heaven. And although these charges do not total 95, they are the sum total of what has been laid upon my heart in grievance.
- We want to follow a Jesus that doesn’t require anything from us. We want a Jesus of convenience, rather than One of personal sacrifice. Even though Jesus clearly articulates in His teaching that we must not only be willing to forsake all we have to follow Him, but also be willing to die to ourselves. (Mark 8:34; Matt 16:24; Luke 9:23)
- We appoint and elect spiritual leaders in the church out of convenience or necessity, rather than according to the requirements of scripture or the genuine leading of the Holy Spirit. Men who have never even read the Bible in Its entirety, who have exhibited no consistent dedication to their own spiritual maturity, neither consistent management of the spiritual growth of their own family, are put in positions of spiritual leadership in the church. It is far better to have a vacant position of leadership, than to fill it in desperation, according to whim or to those simply seeking authority. (1 Tim 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9)
- We seek teachers who will empower us, rather than convict us. We have authority in Christ, but we are not in control, He is. Preachers who promise empowerment through Christ are teaching people to substitute themselves in the place where Christ should be. We are at His feet, He is the only One on the throne. (1 Cor 15:27,28)
- We want changed circumstances instead of changed lives. We don’t mind submitting our circumstances for Christ to work on, but we do not want to submit to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit working within us developing and refining our character…..because inner transformation costs too much. (Phil 2:12,13)
- We are not coming to the cross broken and in desperate need of a Savior, longing to be free from the tyranny of sin in our lives. We want to be saved from the punishment for our sins, but we do not want the necessary personal death that goes along with it, drawing us out and away from sin. We want new wine in old wineskins. (Romans 6)
- We are Biblically illiterate which has led to a gross lack of discernment within the Church as a whole. We follow ministries because they tell us what we want to hear. Someone who truly hears the voice of God will not appeal to your ego or personal agenda. When we follow ministries simply because they appeal to us, any spiritual changes made within us are not by the Holy Spirit and will ultimately lead us further away from the truth. (2 Tim 4:3,4)
- We do not recognize our Shepherd’s voice because we spend little-to-no time listening to Him in intimate, daily prayer or consuming scripture. (Titus 1:16; John 10:27)
- We spend far more time pursuing and managing our own kingdom, rather than pursuing to learn about and understand God’s kingdom. We are damned by distraction and spiritually crippled with busyness that produces fruit for our own kingdom, eating up any opportunity for us to bear fruit for God’s kingdom. Our time is wasted and consumed day-after-day building with straw and hay on a foundation of sand. (1 Cor 3:12,13)
- We measure our relationship with God according to the tasks we perform within or for the church, rather than the time we actually spend in personal fellowship with Him. We pursue ministry over relationship. (Rev 3:1)
- We have littered the Christian landscape with the half-built towers of those who began to build, but failed to fully count the cost of what it means to truly follow Christ. When you preach half the Gospel, you will only build half the tower. (Luke 14:28-30)
We are a nation of empty lamps and dirty cups, claiming Christ as Savior but full of worldliness and devoid of any inner transformation by the Holy Spirit. God does not operate according to our own personal agendas. God isn’t simply whatever we imagine Him to be. The Gospel cannot be found in our cartoon version of Christianity. Neither is the Gospel found in our denominational associations and conventions. We want Christ, but we want Him to operate within our Sunday morning program. We want Christ, but we want the world too. This is why we have found ourselves in this putrid stench of pond-water Christianity that kills us when we drink it. Jesus said He came to give us rivers of living water (John 7:38), but we want the water to flow into our neatly enclosed area, where it can no longer flow, but it sits and turns to scum.
If you find yourself at a point in your life where you feel inexplicably pulled into a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God, I encourage you to surrender. I encourage you to pray for God to send you the people that He will work through to quench your thirst, and the church that He will work through to feed your soul. I encourage you to pray for Living Water. That is God’s will for His children, and He always answers prayers according to His will.
“Jesus stood up and called out in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. To the one who believes in Me, it is just as the Scripture has said: ‘Streams of living water will flow from within him.'” (John 7:38)
“If anyone does not remain in Me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers. Such branches are gathered up, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, proving yourselves to be My disciples.” (John 15:6-8)