Robbing God of His Glory

by Mike Ratliff

Therefore David blessed the LORD in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. (1 Chronicles 29:10-13 ESV) 

As my friend Ken Silva said in a recent email, “…the visible church sinks lower…” This was in response to the response some on our discernment team had to research he had done in discovering something called “Hipster Church” by sending him this link. He followed that by asking the team if they had read my post on Tim Keller. There is most definitely a connection between what is going on at Redeemer Presbyterian Church that Tim Keller “pastors” and this latest example of “gospel contextualization” at Hipster Church. On the sidebar of their website, the leadership of Hipster Church says that their primary focus is to be a church that has no barriers for the “unchurched.” However, what about people like my wife and I? What about hearing the Word rightly divided and going deep into it so that we can be transformed through the renewing of our minds as the Holy Spirit does his work as we become those living sacrifices Paul talks about in Romans 12:1,2? Will we be fed from God’s Word? Will we be edified as we worship God in Spirit and Truth? 

You see, the commonality between what Tim Keller and those who emulate him are doing and what churches like “Hipster Church” are doing is that it is all man-centered instead of being God centered. Tim Keller and all those who practice divination in order to “know” God outside of the boundaries God himself has set, are refusing to obey God in this and are so walking in rebellion and are being given over to deception. These fellows with their backward facing churches that are all about being church for unbelievers are abandoning God’s people, the flock of sheep, for a herd of goats while telling them that if they become religious with them they will be the real Christians while those stick-in-the-mud Christians who desire to know the real God, worship Him, pray to Him, and study his Word in order to know him are the Pharisees who are the enemy because they are just too rigid.

Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. King David prayed this to God as he was preparing to die and turn the kingdom over to his son Solomon. This also included the building of the Temple. In David’s theology, who was it all about? Was it about him, the priests, or any group of people? No, it was all about God. The purpose of it all was God and his glory. To truly understand this passage we must put it in context. In 1 Chronicles 29:1-5, David gives an account of all he has given from his own wealth to the building of the Temple, which is mind boggling. Then at the end of v5 he asks, “Who then will offer willingly, consecrating himself today to the LORD?” We have their answer in vv6-9 where we are given the account of their giving. Here is v9.

Then the people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the LORD. David the king also rejoiced greatly. (1 Chronicles 29:9 ESV)

The people worshiped God by giving willing and freely with a whole heart. That is what led David to rejoice in vv10-13, which we have at the top of this post. Now consider vv14-19. 

“But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you. O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you. Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision.” (1 Chronicles 29:14-19 ESV) 

Do you see proper worship my brethren? Is it directed to God and who He is? Is it about a bunch of noise, falling all over the place, and feeling good about ourselves or is it knowing full well that we have come into the presence of our Holy God and He mercifully accepted our worship and praise? You see, I doubt if unbelievers would find this sort of worship very comfortable nor would they “get it.”

Man-centered false churches use the ways of the world (flesh) to attract people and, therefore, must continue to use them to keep them because they do nothing there to preach the real gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. No, their “gospel” is one of social justice, social reform, and culture transformation. That is not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Their “gospel” saves no one. Once the focus of a ministry robs God of his glory it becomes all about the people and of the world and is part of what Ken was talking about in which, “…the visible church sinks lower…” We must not be part of it, but must stand firmly against it as we obey our Lord, abiding in him, and being bold in sharing our faith as led by the Spirit.

Soli Deo Gloria!

15 thoughts on “Robbing God of His Glory

  1. This is THE MAIN issue facing churches and saints of the living God. Far too many “pastors” are focused on the creature – claiming a love for the lost, but losing their love for the gospel. My previous church “senior pastor” told me we (the church) should be “people driven” rather than “purpose driven”. This sometimes subtle but always destructive shift in focus must be protested by those in such churches. If the men in power will not repent, flee!

  2. Mike,

    As one of those ‘stick in the mud’ ‘Pharisees’…uh hum, you are right. Most churches today are all about them and how they did this and that and that’s why their church is growing. It’s very sad to be in church like that. That’s not giving God any Glory but is taking the Glory upon themselves. Even the bands (which is vexing to the ears) are like a rock concert and everyone claps like they’ve just seen a rock concert. Yes it’s true, we are to help the poor and needy, widows and orphans but first and foremost the Gospel, the real Gospel, Jesus’s death, resurrection, our sins et al needs to be preached and taught. The whole counsel of God which includes repentence, sin, faith, forgiveness and yes, even the Terror of the Lord and the Wrath to come. These all need to be preached. That’s Church. That’s feeding the flock. Today it’s about how to sort out your finances, anger management classes, yoga, tattoos, self esteem, prosperity,health, new ageism et-cetera. What good are all these things if those very souls go to hell? How, pray tell, can it Glorify the Lord when it is all man centered?
    Church is about God’s Glory not ours, We should worship Him and everything done should be to Glorify the Lord. He is our Rock, our Refuge, our Strongtower. He’s God, we’re not. We’re just the clay. I know we should rejoice at all times but sometimes it’s hard to do that in the midst of ‘humanism.’ One Church I went to even had a tattoo shop instead of the Book Store that was there. Heartbreaking stuff. This must break the heart of our Lord. His Holy Spirit can be grieved.

  3. Everything we have comes from the Lord. This includes our sanity and the ability to reason. Just had to add that because without the Lord we have nothing to offer.

  4. Seems to me to be very much like 315 AD and the “Constantine Conversion.” There suddenly was a new way of doing church! Once the Roman elders exerted enough popular pressure, the other elders bowed to them as well as the weakened governments. Hmm seems to be some of that going on again today…Let’s see do we want Perry, Romney, or Palin? If the Hallejulah Train isn’t here soon, we will, it appears, head in to the next Dark Age of the “church.” That is IF this giant 38,000 arm monster really IS the church! I happen to think those few left putting up with the downgrade, but vocally opposing it will be marginalized and given the left foot of fellowship out the door…which is a bit better then the Roman candles got back then! No, the church Jesus is building is doing quite fine as always… It just never would nor ever will be a mega church for few there be that find it. The question really comes down to, this…In the end will there be a great end time revival?…or…will it look more like a great falling away?
    Continue to support those who function as true elders in His church, they are the ones who make themselves THE LEAST in the Kingdom here by pouring themselves out in humble service to the saints. Those who insist on titles and elevation are of this world, just like Jesus said. Now if you want to be a “rock star” groupie, that’s up to you.
    King James Bible Jeremiah 5:31
    The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?

  5. Mike, I just have to laugh when I read what they think the “unchurched” need/want. I was “the unchurched” for the first 38 years of my life. I had never even heard of Christian rock music and I wasn’t looking for excitement. I had plenty of rock music and excitement (the bad kind) in my life as it was. I wasn’t looking for self-help aka ‘relevance’. There were a ton of self-help, new age books and teachers and I had read some of them. When the Lord began working on my heart, He led me to Himself and His word. The church I ended up at didn’t even have musical instruments!!! LOL! The people at the church were not particularly friendly. The church had no strobe lights, the pastor was plainly dressed with no facial hair, piercings or tattoos. There was nothing to please the flesh. I personally had had enough of the flesh (!) and the Lord was so gracious to give me a desire for something far far better. Jesus Christ Himself brought me to salvation, not any man-made efforts and designs. The Lord taught me in the sermon on the mount: understanding of my spiritual need Matt 5:3; a mourning and a repentance over my sin Matt 5:4; He gave me a hunger and a thirst for His righteousness Matt 5:6.
    They don’t have the Spirit so all they have to offer is the flesh. They are offering fleshly people more flesh. Just like the scripture says: 2 Peter 2:18-19 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. (19) While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

  6. Well said Julie, you and I have much in common because God didn’t save me until I was 35. I know exactly what you mean. I actually sampled a very early early version of SGM called TAG (C.J. Mahaney) back in Washington DC in the mid 1970′s as a lost person. It was all about holiness and feeding the flesh via rock/worship music. It didn’t take…

  7. Well, if we’re giving testimonies …

    I was told I was saved when I was 8. Was baptized into a Nazarene church along with my older brother. No church thereafter ever so much as asked if I was saved. So when my wife and I had our first child, we knew to go back to church. After a few years of this, my wife was walking with the Lord and I had no love for the people of God. My wife told me – one time – that she wanted me to be the spiritual leader of the family. Then she conspired with people in our church to pray for me.

    Seven years later, when I was 38, I had what people in my church called “an adult decision” to follow Jesus. I thought it was a personal revival. Years later, when I learned a bit of reformed theology, I determined that my “revival” was my justification. No fruit of the Spirit before that, noticeable fruit of the Spirit in many areas of my life thereafter.

    I thank the Lord for the woman He gave me! Not only is our Lord patient, so is my dear wife. We are now in our 34th year of marriage and growing in our love for God and one another.

  8. So then, by your own admissions/testimonies the Lord caused you to be born from above in spite of the religion in your lives…And He did that too for this (raised) Catholic boy! Thus you were added to His Church, by Him (alone) and that church the gates of hell will not prevail against, which by its nature is OTHER then the mechanitions of men.
    In my earlier post I quoted Jeremiah 5:31. I now call your attention to the “but what will you do in the end thereof.” This to me speaks of all the trying to fix what isn’t a broken system, but another system…more specifically another’s system. The downgrade which Spurgeon spoke of, and inadvertantly had a part in was well under way in his lifetime. It was brought on by the professional paid cleric system, that pushed out the humble minister/shepherd. Spurgeon was a “rock star” of his day, and he, along with others turned the reformation in to a re-formation. I am not questioning his intentions, as I love his work, but rather I am pointing out that the “standard” for ministry changed with these men to a speech/debate format, and away from shepherds to experts that we can listen to and learn from, without doing our own disciplined study. It drew large crowds, away from small congregations, and added entertainment to the mix. Spurgeon was societies child, and society with all its worldly wealth followed…We see the end results today such that good is evil spoken of, and evil becomes good. Further not one in one hundred will tolerate, let alone endure sound doctrine, while the elders rule by their own wiles and traditions…and the people LOVE to have it so!

  9. @ Denise and Julie;
    I love and appreciate your sharing above. It really drives home the point of the mechanitions of men verses the saving work of the Lord in each of your lives.
    Thanks also to Manfred and Mike for their testimonies as well, as they too reveal the Lord’s Work in men’s lives. We I think get so caught up in doing church, that we fail to see we simply are the church, and the soul/sole work of our Lord.

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