Dethroning Our Great Idol

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

The church as we know it today began with repentance. When Peter preached the cross at Pentecost, thousands came to Christ. This new church was made up of one body, consisting of all races, filled with love for one another. Its corporate life was marked by evangelism, a spirit of sacrifice and even martyrdom.

The wonderful beginning reflects God’s words about Israel: “I had planted you a noble vine, a seed of highest quality.” The rest of that verse describes what often happens to such works. “How then have you turned before me into the degenerate plant of an alien vine?” (Jeremiah 2:21, NKJV). God was saying, “I planted you right. You were mine, bearing my name and nature, but now you’ve turned degenerate.”

What caused this degeneration in the church? It always has been and will continue to be idolatry. God is speaking of idolatry when he says to Jeremiah, “Has a nation changed its gods, which are not gods? But my people have changed their glory for what does not profit.” (Jeremiah 2:11).

Most Christian teaching today identifies an idol as anything that comes between God’s people and himself, yet that’s only a partial description of idolatry. Idolatry has to do with a much deeper heart issue. The number-one idol among God’s people isn’t adultery, pornography or alcohol. It’s a much more powerful lust.

What is this idol? It’s a driving ambition for success. It even has a doctrine to justify it. A man of the world once said, “He who dies with the most toys wins.”

Tragically, Christians are also caught up in this pursuit. How far we have strayed from the gospel of living through dying to self, ego and worldly ambition. The idolatry of being successful describes many in God’s house today. These people are upright, morally clean, full of good works; but they’ve set up an idol of ambition in their hearts, and they can’t be shaken from it.

God loves to bless his people. He wants his people to succeed in all they undertake honestly, but there is now a raging spirit in the land that is overtaking multitudes: this is the spirit of love for recognition and acquiring of things.

An Invitation and a Warning

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Jesus stood in the temple and cried out, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” (Matthew 23:37, NKJV). As I read this, a question arises: In the New Testament, would God cast off a person who rejected his offers of grace, mercy and awakening?

Jesus answered this by saying, “See! Your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23:38). He told them, “This temple is now your house, not mine. I’m leaving it, and I leave what you wasted and deserted.”

He then added, “For I say to you, you shall see me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Matthew 23:39). He was declaring to them, “My glory is no longer in this old work.”

Think of it. Here stood mercy and grace incarnate, saying, “This old thing isn’t mine anymore.” Jesus moved on to Pentecost, to the beginning of a new thing. He was about to raise up a new church, not a replica of the old. He would make it brand new from the foundation up. It would be a church of new priests and people, all born again in him.

Not long after this portion of scripture, Jesus told his disciples, “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’…the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him…and will appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:45-51).

Even though we are part of this new work Jesus is doing, we should carefully evaluate ourselves. Is our behavior in the church representative of who Jesus is? Are we acting like the church triumphant, the spotless bride of Christ? Do we reveal to a lost world the very nature of God?

We Have Been Given a Word

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

We are living in a time of the greatest gospel revelation in history. There are more preachers, books and gospel-media than ever. Yet there has also never been more distress, affliction and troubled minds among God’s people. Pastors today design their sermons just to pick people up and help them deal with despair.

There is nothing wrong with this. I preach these truths myself, yet I believe there’s one simple reason why we see so little victory and deliverance: it is unbelief. The fact is that God has spoken with great clarity in these last days, and he has said, “I’ve already given you a Word. It is finished and complete. Now, stand on it.”

Let no one tell you we are experiencing a famine of God’s Word. The truth is that we’re experiencing a famine of hearing God’s Word and obeying it. Why? Paul states plainly, “For the scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’ So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:11-13, 16-17, NKJV)

This is the only way true faith will ever rise up in any believer’s heart. It comes by hearing—that is, believing, trusting and acting on—God’s Word.

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all… The Lord redeems the soul of his servants, and none of those who trust in him shall be condemned” (Psalm 34:17-19, 22).

In just these few passages from Psalms, we are given enough of God’s Word to drive out all unbelief. I urge you now to hear it, trust it and obey it. Finally, rest in it.

Why Is My Soul Cast Down?

David Wilkerson (1931-2011)

Over and over, the Psalmist asks, “Why is my soul cast down? I feel useless and forsaken. There’s such a restlessness inside me. Why, Lord? Why do I feel so helpless in my affliction?” (See Psalm 42:11 and Psalm 43:5.) These questions speak for multitudes who have loved and served God.

Take godly Elijah, for example. We see him under a juniper tree, begging God to kill him. He’s so downcast that he’s at the point of giving up his own life. We also find righteous Jeremiah cast down in despair. The prophet cries, “Lord, you’ve deceived me. You told me to prophesy all these things, but none of them has come to pass. I’ve done nothing but seek you all my life. This is how I’m repaid? Now I’ll no longer mention your name.”

Each of these servants is under a temporary attack of unbelief, but the Lord understood their condition in times of confusion and doubt. After a period, he always pointed them to their way out. In the midst of their afflictions, the Holy Spirit turned on the light for them.

Consider Elijah’s testimony. “There he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” (1 Kings 19:9, NKJV). This meeting sparked new life in him, something that Jeremiah also expressed. “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; for I am called by your name, O Lord God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16, NKJV). At some point, each of these servants remembered God’s Word, and it became the source of joy and rejoicing in their lives, pulling them out of the pit.

The truth is that the whole time these people were struggling, the Lord was sitting by, waiting. He heard their cries and anguish. After a certain time had passed, he told them, “You’ve had your time of grief and doubt. Now I want you to trust me. Will you go back to my Word? Will you lay hold of my promise to you? If you do, my Word will see you through.”

That promise and Word from the Lord will see us through every hard time and lift up our souls when we are cast down.

Silencing the Accuser’s Voice

Gary Wilkerson

Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus brought the promise made in Genesis into a reality. He came to crush the head of the accuser.

Many of you right now are being accused. Do you ever wake up at 3:00 in the morning and feel the weight of that accusation? It’s the strangest thing. I wake up almost every night, but a lot of times when I wake up in the middle of the night, my mind is just kind of flooded with this free-floating anxiety, the sense of ‘Man, I think I did something wrong.’

Anybody else have that kind of anxiety or fear? That’s the accuser. The Bible calls it the accuser of the brethren, trying to say to you, “You’re no good. You’re worthless! You’re not keeping the law. You’re the least of the Christians in this place.” Now I used to live under such condemnation, guilt and shame, feeling like ‘I’m not obeying enough of the law.’

The Jewish people couldn’t keep all of God’s rules and regulations either, and it gave open access to the enemy and to their own consciences to weigh them down with this sense of guilt, shame, and fear. These people’s lives were falling apart and full of accusations, and all they heard was the religious leaders telling them to try harder and burdening them with shame and condemnation. Jesus came and brought an answer to this. You see it even in the working out of his ministry. He preached the Beatitudes and said to these broken and poor people, “Blessed are those of you who are broken.”

Jesus, when he came to the earth, came to open a new way of living where the Father does not judge us on the merit of our own performance. We are now judged through this lens of Jesus Christ who says to us, “Where are your accusers? Where is Satan? He’s gone! I have crushed his head under my feet. Where is that inner voice that accuses you? I have stopped the foul voice that’s coming against you.”

Where is the voice of the accuser against your friends, your family and others around you? It is gone. We have freedom in Christ!