Friday, June 26, 2009

Bad Doctors

I turn 50 this summer…it had to happen eventually. I go in this morning to hear the results of my half-a-century physical! I hope the news is good. But what if there is something wrong? What if it turns out I have a diseased liver or diminished kidney function? What if I have high blood pressure or cholesterol that is off the charts? And…what if the doctor, knowing these issues, simply ignores them or looks me in the eye and says, “Eh, its no big deal”? What a poor physician that would be!

I fear that at times pastors and leaders (and parents and friends?) in our day are poor physicians of the soul. I fear that in our evangelical sub-culture, we at times see cancer and just ignore it…or, at the very least, fail to treat it. Imagine that. Imagine someone being eaten up with cancer and the doctor, though knowing about it, failing to aggressively treat it.

Our Lord Jesus is the Great Physician. The Apostle Paul was a good Intern…as was the Apostle Peter. They were good shepherds.

In Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening for today, both devotionals deal aggressively with the possibility of cancer of the soul. I find it very interesting that the devotionals for today are right in line with where we are in our study of 1 Corinthians.

Last Sunday’s message on 1 Cor 10:1-3 was an “oil checker” for sure. As in Hebrews 6:4-6, we learn just how much grace we can be exposed to and still not be saved. There is a common grace at work in the Church that can lead to all kinds of “enlightening” but does not save. There can be profession of faith without possession of faith. As in Israel, where all passed through the Red Sea and received water from a rock and manna from heaven, we can be WITH Christ and not be IN Christ! Are YOU in Christ?

Read Spurgeon’s devotions today! If you’ve already read them…read them again! They are the “check-up” for your soul this day! Read the gifted way Spurgeon, as a good doctor, communicates the seriousness of the possibility of cancer of the soul!

As Jesus says in Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who SAYS to Me, “Lord, Lord!” will enter the kingdom of heaven.” Notice: some will have cast out demons in the Name of the Lord. Some will have worked miracles even, in the Name of Christ. Still others will have prophesied…and yet Jesus, on that Final Day, will say, “Depart from Me…I NEVER knew you.”

Picture the doomed in hell pointing their fiery fingers and shouting: “There is one! One who professed faith. One who thought by good deeds or a passable Christian lifestyle, that they were in the Ark of Christ and would escape the Flood of Wrath.” “There is one who was a hypocrite on earth and now will be a citizen of hell…forever!”

Read again Spurgeon’s words: “No greater eagerness will ever be seen among satanic tormentors, than in that day when devils drag the hypocrite’s soul down to eternal damnation.” Strong medicine these words are! Stronger than most of the medicine delivered in many grace-driven churches.

The Power of grace enables physicians of the soul to speak so forcefully against spiritual cancer. Gospel Physicians know that grace is no mere sentimentality of divine love, but instead is Divine Power poured out upon a human soul…and if poured out and received, grace MUST have it’s work! Grace will and must change a life.

Spurgeon ends the Evening Devotional as I have ended many sermons: “…there can not be faith in the heart unless there is holiness in the life.” Now, obviously that holiness is incomplete, and even ebbs and flows through seasons of life, but…

That is NOT works salvation! That is exalting the wonder and beauty of grace! Grace is not mere “fire insurance” against the flames of hell. Grace is God’s love poured out in transforming power.

Any healthy soul at THIS POINT, should be aware of areas of the life that are not pleasing to God. Any healthy soul at this point should be more concerned than they were at the beginning of this devotional, over the condition of their spiritual life. Any healthy soul MUST be running to the Cross right now and crying out, “Oh Christ! Have mercy!” Any healthy soul must be laboring right now to be found in Christ and in His righteousness alone. Any healthy soul right now must be humbled by existing sin in the life and hoping afresh in the work of Christ that makes clean and justifies in the sight of God. EVERY healthy soul at Oak Mountain should surely be WALTZING right now! The Three-Step Dance of GRACE with our Loving Partner, Jesus. Repent! Believe! Fight!

It is the UNHEALTHY soul that is thinking: “Ah, good for you, Bob! There are many out there who need to read such a devotional. Thankfully MY OWN soul is not in need of such examination, but I need to make sure so-and-so gets this one.” The unhealthy soul never imagines the possibility of being one who on the last day hears, “Depart from Me, I NEVER knew you.”

Let’s face it…the bar of spirituality in the Church today is not as high as it has been in the past. We need REVIVAL! Revival starts with a work of the Spirit leading us to fresh repentance. Revival starts with a fresh work of grace which reveals how desperately we need a fresh work of grace!

Revival begins with souls who have been given the grace to read devotionals like Spurgeon writes today, and after reading, cry out: “Oh Christ! Have mercy upon me! Change me! Restore me to my First Love…and do it NOW!”

Enough with examinations and check-ups that only look for visibly diseased limbs and exteriors! We need some real lab work sent off! Is kindness growing in my soul? Do I love money and possessions too much? Is there a fire in my belly for the word of God and the Church of God and the people of God? Am I burdened that Christ be believed upon and exalted and glorified and honored in the world?

Am I repenting and grieving over my self-righteousness as much as my self-indulgence? Am I repenting over my religiosity as much as my irreligiosity?

Am I as repentant over my lack of concern for the poor and diseased as I am over my lack of concern for the unborn? Am I as concerned over my problem with gossip as I am with the culture’s problem with gambling? Am I as burdened over the sins of the “Right” as I am over the sins of the “Left?”

Am I as grieved by personal, private sins which I see in myself as I am by public sins I see in others? Is Christ my First Love? Is it Him and Him only that I must have in life and nothing else matters?!

Now REMEMBER: the therapy recommended by Scripture is NOT to “turn over a new leaf;” it is NOT to “turn your life around.” The prescription for cancer of the soul is running to Christ in helpless dependence. It is despairing of any solution within and hoping afresh in Gospel Grace.
If we are, in fact, in Christ, remember the Promises:

“There is therefore, now, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

And, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to FORGIVE us our sins AND to CLEANSE us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

I, for one, NEED to be forgiven; AND, I NEED to be cleansed, changed, transformed! I both NEED and WANT revival! How about you?!

No comments: