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!