Friday, June 7, 2013

Criticism Undermines Revelation

Criticism Undermines Revelation

By Stan Feldsine

The Rushing Wind of Revelation

While reading the preface for a book recently, "Fearfully and Wonderfully Made", I  became aware of a building rush of Wind coming from it's pages.  The author, Phillip Yancy was describing an individual whose life was one of continual worship, the world renowned surgeon, Paul Brand.  Paul had given the very foundation of his life to Jesus, entirely built on Christ Himself, and the magnificent "building" that made up his life, every facet was completely given to the worship of his Creator.  In this preface, Phillip was describing insights regarding the human body's relationship to the heavenly kingdom that Paul Brand had shared with him that were so profound, in which the Holy Spirit was such a part of, that the Spirit literally rushed out of the pages and through me such that my hair almost perceptibly was moved.  My emotions however, were completely moved by the revelation I was sharing such that I could not contain myself as tears of joy rolled down my face as I came to see by illumination another facet of Jesus' care and love in the construction of His body, the Bride.  I was at once aware of how incomprehensible God's works are, how unimaginably deep His love is, and how complete His perfection.  This experience of fellowship with the Spirit was truly indescribable, as these feeble words testify.

Coming with a pure heart to gaze upon His majesty, it is by His great mercy and grace that He opens just an unimaginably small pinhole through which His infinite glory blinds us with overwhelming light and emotion.  We are shielded from the unimaginable pressure of His glory, holiness, and divine wisdom through the infinitely wise dispensation of progressive revelation.  Paul must have seen the glory constrained by this pinhole for he prayed for all of us:

Eph 1:17-20  that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,  (18)  the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,  (19)  and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power  (20)  which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,

I pray that all will be transformed from glory to glory (2 Cor 3:18), and know the unsearchable riches by revelation in the knowledge of Jesus, as we lay aside every weight that constrains us. (Heb 12:1)  In this paper, I would like to look at one of the many restraints that can cause us to fall short on the path to having our understanding enlightened.  This obstacle is a form of spiritual impurity running rampant in the church today, criticism.

The Deadness of Impurity

Jesus said in Matthew 5:8 "Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God."  The implication here is clear, if we harbor an impure heart, we will not see God, and thus put at risk our transformation. (2 Cor 3:18)

James gives us instruction in the truth about the heart and purity when he tell us Christian brethren:

James 1:26  "If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless." 

He continues, speaking to Christian brethren:

James 3:8-11  "But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.  (9)  With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God.  (10)  Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.  (11)  Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening?"

Jesus provides a clear indication of the relationship between the heart and speech in:

Luke 6:45  "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."

If then the mouth reveals the heart, and a pure heart will see God, then by our mouth we can discern one obstacle to knowing Him in His fullness.  We must ask ourselves, do we comprehend fully the holiness of God's pure heart, which He commands us to have? (1 Pet 1:15-16)  To attempt to gauge our understanding of the holiness we are called to, we should consider the humility and depravity of Isaiah when, after viewing the Seraphim cry "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts..." (Isaiah 6.3)  Isaiah cried: 

Isaiah 6:5 "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts."

To be "undone" means to "be brought to silence", according to Strongs definition of the Hebrew "damah".  How great is the holiness of the Lord God that the prophet Isaiah should be so moved, and to such humility. 

When we consider Isaiah, lamenting His low stature of holiness and purity in the presence of God Almighty, and associating with others of the similar virtue, we have a hint of our own present status of purity and holiness.  Our realization of our own true measure of purity in relation to Jesus should generate a like measure of humility as that found in Isaiah. When looking around the church today, a proud spirit has come in, and those afflicted by it are shouting insolence from the rooftops. Observe a few from thousands of examples of actual comments by Christians taken from Facebook and blogs:

  • Regarding "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren - "Warren is a heretic and his congregation that still has a Biblical foundation should run quickly."  "You know, I shook my head when all these people gave me this book. (Purpose Driven Life) My wife passed away, and they gave me this crap!!"  "Warren will be the one to account for these souls in misleading them."
  • Regarding the death of Rick Warren's Son - "Rick warren False Prophet in my book Sorry for his lost maybe GOD giving him a wake up call."  "rick warren supports gay marriage and crislam. If he dont repent and stop compermising the gospel of jesus christ so every body can like him. I dont understand u preachers who think u can drink the cup of the lord and of devils!!! repent or go to hell its that simple period!!"
  • A song by a Christian Rap artist, Fal$e Teacher$ by Shai Linne - (Accuses 10 teachers) - "This really is an excellent song. I'm glad a christian isn't afraid to call these false teachers out."
  • Regarding Paula White - See the comments following the web article linked here, where many Christian brethren exhibit unmistakable "evil speech" -
  • Regarding Joyce Meyer and Perry Stone - "I am quite aware that she (Joyce) has many followers and supporters. However, she utilizes this eastern technique and Christians should be aware of what it is and why it is not to be used."  "Perry Stone and his father both said that they talked to dead "friends"... that's necromancy... forbidden by God. I used to follow Perry Stone until I saw, from his own lips, that both he and his father both received a "word" from their dead friend. Once I heard that, I saw so many unbiblical teachings from him. Pray from him but don't follow him because he's preaching another gospel"

James comes to our aid in properly judging comments such as these: 

James 3:17-18  "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.  (18)  Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." 

To those that make such comments under the cloak of discernment, I ask, do these comments reflect humility?  Is this wisdom from above, and as such are these words peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits?  Are you sowing the fruit of righteousness in peace, as one who makes peace, or is this hurtful to those who are targeted?  Is your view of holiness of God shaded by limited human understanding, such that you believe Christ has modeled such speech as this?  He has not.

Matthew Henry advises us:

"If we are wiser than others, this should be evidenced by the goodness of our conversation, not by the roughness or vanity of it. Words that inform, and heal, and do good, are the marks of wisdom; not those that look great, and do mischief, and are the occasions of evil, either in ourselves or others." (Matthew Henry Commentary - James 3:13)

Paul provides stunning insight into this problem,  speaking of religious leaders, with whom he disagreed, and unintentionally spoke evil of:

Acts 23:5  Then Paul said, "I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is written, 'YOU SHALL NOT SPEAK EVIL OF A RULER OF YOUR PEOPLE.'"

We are all of miserable unclean lips, speaking evil of our religious leaders.  While we may have some discernment, some of our responses as illustrated in the comments above are proud, haughty and arrogant, when we should be driven to silence before a holy God to seek His purity in our own lives, remembering in humility that none was found worthy to cast the first stone at the adulterous woman, (John 8:7) and that we will give account for every idle word we speak. (Matt 12:36)

An incredible consequence of arrogant finger wagging is our own blindness, and the risk falling into the trap of being a false witness against others, calling bad what God has called good, as is happening with heartbreaking regularity.  (Job 18:8, Prov 18:6-7, Prov 22:24-25)

Love Purifies

The reality is that comments such as those shown reveal impurity in the heart, for they do not lift up, are not kind, gentle, peaceable, loving nor longsuffering.  There is no reflection of the Lord's goodness in them.  It is not within the scope of this article to address the teachings of those listed above, but instead, the Christian response to these teachings, good or bad, is in focus.  It is the impact upon our own heart and speech that is in focus.  It is our response, revealing our heart, which is affecting our ability to behold the face of God and to can keep us from experiencing our own transformation from glory to glory.  Whether you have discernment or not, your response to what is thought to be discerned displays where your own heart is, and itself condemns or frees you.

The great tragedy brought about by giving in to this impure spirit of criticism is this purity lost, without which we cannot truly see God, and especially the deep things of God. (Psalms 92:5)  Satan is relishing his ability to distract Christians believers from a pure heart and the knowledge of God by causing them to receive his critical spirit, and respond to others from a critical heart with critical words, thus introducing impurity into the body.  He desires that men fail to come to the knowledge of God, and he is succeeding. 

Can light and darkness exist together? It is in the pure light that we can see, the light from which illumination and revelation comes. (2 Cor 4:6)  It is through revelation that we are changed into His image from glory to glory.  (2 Cor 3:18) 

I pray that you, the reader, would come to gaze into the face of God, that you would banish spiritual impurity, that you would set aside evil speech in favor of revelation in the knowledge of Him, that you would cease criticism in favor of illumination, that you would come to the knowledge of God's eternal, unending, unbounded, and unconditional love for every person, and that you would follow the example of Isaiah and wear humility. For John advises us that without love in our heart, which produces kindness and gentleness, we will not know Him with intimacy:

1 John 4:7-8  Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  (8)  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.