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Where are all the prophetic voices? Part 2 of 2

Where are all the prophetic voices? Part 2 of 2 October 19, 2021

If we can read Paul, Isaiah, and Jeremiah and not be challenged by their words, if we can read them and never feel a great sense of uneasiness or discomfort, then are we really reading them well? Or are we just skimming their words in the same way that we scroll through our TV programming guides until we find the channel that says the things we like? (or maybe it has the Patriots game on!).

There are plenty of prophetic voices today, but we are not listening well enough to hear them.

One of the more explicit examples is found in Ezekiel’s denouncement of the people of God in his day. They were, he says,

“. . . the daughter of your mother, who loathed her husband and children. You are also the sister of your sisters, who loathed their husbands and children. . . .

Now your older sister is Samaria, who lives north of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lives south of you, is Sodom with her daughters” (Ezek 16:45-46).

Now, at this point, I suspect that many evangelicals will assume that the people to whom Ezekiel was speaking must have been engaged in sexual immorality. After all, that was the sin of Sodom: right?

Nope!

The sin of Sodom, says Ezekiel, was:

“Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy” (Ezek 16:49).

I think these words speak loudly to the evangelical church in the West today: we are arrogant, with plenty of food, and careless ease, and we seldom help the poor and the needy.

There are prophetic voices today, but we are not able to hear them.

[NB: I will resume the posts on Race in 2 weeks]

There are plenty of prophetic voices today, but no one will hire them.

We would like to flatter ourselves as though we are excited to hear prophetic voices, but the moment they speak we get rid of them.

The problem with prophetic voices is that they cause people to leave our churches.

“He’s too abrasive: People need time to sort things out.”

“That’s too much to handle right now.”

“We just can’t afford that!”

“She’s not practical: no one can ever live up to those expectations.”

(And how many of you are uneasy because I began the last line with “she”? And you wonder why many do not want to speak up).

All our excuses for ridding our communities of prophetic voices are quite reasonable. They certainly make good business sense.

“You can never build a church if you do what he says.”

We have to guide our folks along slowly.”

“We can’t give them more than they can handle.”

“It won’t do any good if we stretch them too far and they leave.”

Jesus as a model of the prophetic tradition

Isn’t it strange that Jesus taught for 3 years and performed many miracles, including raising Himself from the dead, and yet, despite all this, when all was said and done, He only had 120 followers?

Why? How could He have had thousands of people following Him, yet, in the end He only had enough followers for a small church at best?

Dare I say it: Jesus was not a good megachurch pastor.

(BTW: There is little evidence that any of the churches Paul started comprised more than a few dozen members)

What happened? Why did the thousands stop following Jesus? You would think that after He raised Himself from the dead, there would be even more followers!

I believe that people were leaving because they began to realize that Jesus really meant what He had been saying. Apparently, He meant it when He said, “take up your cross and follow Me” (Mark 8:34). They began to realize that He really expected us to deny ourselves (Mark 8:34). He really expected some to “go and sell all you possess and give to the poor” (Mark 10:21).

Now some of you might be a bit taken back by all this. Some of you might be offended.

Am I suggesting that to preach the Bible well we would only have a small number of people in our churches?

Well, to be clear I am not limiting the moving of the Spirit to do as He wishes. If it is His will to move among a large group of people, then so be it. He has done so in the past (“and that day there were added about three thousand souls”; Acts 2:41) and He may certainly do so again.

The problem is that many of the mega-churches are becoming big by trying to “attract” people to Christ—and I am not saying that this is necessarily wrong. But in doing so, I fear that many of them have forgotten that the Gospel message that, “Jesus is Lord and you’re not,” is not very appealing. Neither is: “take up your cross and follow Me” (Mark 8:34-38).

There are prophetic voices out there, but we don’t like what they say because they run people away. So, we get rid of them or refuse to hire them.

NB: Someone might say, “but shouldn’t we find ways to present the Gospel so that it appeals to people?”

I am certainly not denying that we should be kind when we present the gospel. And that we should be loving and accepting of others as persons so that they may listen to us. And that we should reflect Christ in our character and actions so that people will even come to us so that we may share the gospel with them.

I am not saying that we cannot offer coffee and donuts (or pizza for a youth group event; or pizza anytime!).

The point is that what we cannot do is water down the message in order that people will believe it. After all, if we do that, is it really the Gospel they are believing? Is it really Jesus they are following?

“Oh, but we are not doing that. We would never water down the Gospel and the demands of Christ.”

Really? Then why is that many Christians seldom leave a Bible study or church service thinking, this gospel stuff might get me killed if I really did what it said?

Seriously: why was Jesus crucified? I know that stuff about how He came to die for our sins and fulfill prophesy and all that. I mean, why did Rome kill Him?

They killed Him because He upset the religious leaders.

That’s right! Read those words carefully: He upset the RELIGIOUS leaders.

Today most Christians do a really good job of upsetting our neighbors, especially if they are Muslims, or immigrants, or if they have different sexual preferences than ours.

And if there are people out there who want to kill Christians in America it is usually those outsiders that we have failed to love and have hated instead.

Of course, they hate us. Of course, they want to kill.

(BTW: they are killing Christians in their own countries because we in the West have acted with so much hatred towards them. That’s right. Our actions in the West are getting Christians in other places killed. but that is for another post).

My point is that Jesus and the prophets were upsetting those that we today would say are in the church.

I suspect that many prophetic voices would like to be here, but some of them have given up

I think that there have been many prophetic voices that have been trying to bring reformation for some time. And I think that some of them have become disillusioned: maybe discouraged is a better word—though disillusioned ain’t bad.

As a result, many of them have turned away from the established church. Some have left the ministry and taken on secular jobs. Some of them are still trying to create genuine communities centered around Christ and the gospel, but they are not doing so in an established church.

Prophetic voices do not call the those outside the church to do anything but follow Jesus.

The challenge to those outside the church is to follow Jesus.

It is not to make a society with Christian laws—though that might be nice, it is not something to be done at the expense of the Gospel and our Christian witness.

It is not to advance nationalistic causes at the expense of our Christian witness.

It is not to advance ethics that deny the witness of the Gospel?

Where, then, are all the prophetic voices?

So, where are they? The question is a good one! At the same time, I kinda chuckle: “do you really want to know?” I mean: really?

 

If you have been blessed by this blog post and would like to see others benefit too, would you please consider giving a tax-deductible contribution to support determinetruth ministries and make possible future posts like this? You may give a tax-deductible gift by following this link

Good news: If you wish to view this blog on your smartphone through the Determinetruth app simply download the “tithe.ly church” app on your smartphone and insert “determinetruth” as the church name you wish to follow. Once it is loaded, simply click on the “blog” icon and they will automatically load.

If you would like to have Rob speak at your church or organization in person or via zoom, please let us know by filling out the contact info on the Contact me tab on this site.

If you would like to share your story, or if you have questions that you would like addressed in future posts, you may submit them in the Contact me tab on this site.

 

One of the more explicit examples is found in Ezekiel’s denouncement of the people of God in his day. They were, he says,

“. . . the daughter of your mother, who loathed her husband and children. You are also the sister of your sisters, who loathed their husbands and children. . . .

Now your older sister is Samaria, who lives north of you with her daughters; and your younger sister, who lives south of you, is Sodom with her daughters” (Ezek 16:45-46).

Now, at this point, I suspect that many evangelicals will assume that the people to whom Ezekiel was speaking must have been engaged in sexual immorality. After all, that was the sin of Sodom: right?

Nope!

The sin of Sodom, says Ezekiel, was:

“Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy” (Ezek 16:49).

I think these words speak loudly to the evangelical church in the West today: we are arrogant, with plenty of food, and careless ease, and we seldom help the poor and the needy.

There are prophetic voices today, but we are not able to hear them.

 

There are plenty of prophetic voices today, but no one will hire them.

We would like to flatter ourselves as though we are excited to hear prophetic voices, but the moment they speak we get rid of them.

The problem with prophetic voices is that they cause people to leave our churches.

“He’s too abrasive: People need time to sort things out.”

“That’s too much to handle right now.”

“We just can’t afford that!”

“She’s not practical: no one can ever live up to those expectations.”

(And how many of you are uneasy because I began the last line with “she”? And you wonder why many do not want to speak up).

All our excuses for ridding our communities of prophetic voices are quite reasonable. They certainly make good business sense.

“You can never build a church if you do what he says.”

We have to guide our folks along slowly.”

“We can’t give them more than they can handle.”

“It won’t do any good if we stretch them too far and they leave.”

Jesus as a model of the prophetic tradition

Isn’t it strange that Jesus taught for 3 years and performed many miracles, including raising Himself from the dead, and yet, despite all this, when all was said and done, He only had 120 followers?

Why? How could He have had thousands of people following Him, yet, in the end He only had enough followers for a small church at best?

Dare I say it: Jesus was not a good megachurch pastor.

(BTW: There is little evidence that any of the churches Paul started comprised more than a few dozen members)

What happened? Why did the thousands stop following Jesus? You would think that after He raised Himself from the dead, there would be even more followers!

I believe that people were leaving because they began to realize that Jesus really meant what He had been saying. Apparently, He meant it when He said, “take up your cross and follow Me” (Mark 8:34). They began to realize that He really expected us to deny ourselves (Mark 8:34). He really expected some to “go and sell all you possess and give to the poor” (Mark 10:21).

Now some of you might be a bit taken aback by all this. Some of you might be offended.

Am I suggesting that to preach the Bible well we would only have a small number of people in our churches?

Well, to be clear I am not limiting the moving of the Spirit to do as He wishes. If it is His will to move among a large group of people, then so be it. He has done so in the past (“and that day there were added about three thousand souls”; Acts 2:41) and He may certainly do so again.

The problem is that many of the mega-churches are becoming big by trying to “attract” people to Christ—and I am not saying that this is necessarily wrong. But in doing so, I fear that many of them have forgotten that the Gospel message that, “Jesus is Lord and you’re not,” is not very appealing. Neither is: “take up your cross and follow Me” (Mark 8:34-38).

There are prophetic voices out there, but we don’t like what they say because they run people away. So, we get rid of them or refuse to hire them.

 

NB: Someone might say, “but shouldn’t we find ways to present the Gospel so that it appeals to people?”

I am certainly not denying that we should be kind when we present the gospel. And that we should be loving and accepting of others as persons so that they may listen to us. And that we should reflect Christ in our character and actions so that people will even come to us so that we may share the gospel with them.

I am not saying that we cannot offer coffee and donuts (or pizza for a youth group event; or pizza anytime!).

The point is that what we cannot do is water down the message in order that people will believe it. After all, if we do that, is it really the Gospel they are believing? Is it really Jesus they are following?

“Oh, but we are not doing that. We would never water down the Gospel and the demands of Christ.”

Really? Then why is that many Christians seldom leave a Bible study or church service thinking, this gospel stuff might get me killed if I really did what it said?

Seriously: why was Jesus crucified? I know that stuff about how He came to die for our sins and fulfill prophesy and all that. I mean, why did Rome kill Him?

They killed Him because He upset the religious leaders.

That’s right! Read those words carefully: He upset the RELIGIOUS leaders.

Today most Christians do a really good job of upsetting our neighbors, especially if they are Muslims, or immigrants, or if they have different sexual preferences than ours.

And if there are people out there who want to kill Christians in America it is usually those outsiders that we have failed to love and have hated instead.

Of course, they hate us. Of course, they want to kill.

(BTW: they are killing Christians in their own countries because we in the West have acted with so much hatred towards them. That’s right. Our actions in the West are getting Christians in other places killed. but that is for another post).

My point is that Jesus and the prophets were upsetting those that we today would say are in the church.

 

I suspect that many prophetic voices would like to be here, but some of them have given up

I think that there have been many prophetic voices that have been trying to bring reformation for some time. And I think that some of them have become disillusioned: maybe discouraged is a better word—though disillusioned ain’t bad.

As a result, many of them have turned away from the established church. Some have left the ministry and taken on secular jobs. Some of them are still trying to create genuine communities centered around Christ and the gospel, but they are not doing so in an established church.

 

Prophetic voices do not call the those outside the church to do anything but follow Jesus.

The challenge to those outside the church is to follow Jesus.

It is not to make a society with Christian laws—though that might be nice, it is not something to be done at the expense of the Gospel and our Christian witness.

It is not to advance nationalistic causes at the expense of our Christian witness.

It is not to advance ethics that deny the witness of the Gospel?

 

Where are all the prophetic voices?

So, where are they? The question is a good one! At the same time, I kinda chuckle: “do you really want to know?” I mean: really?

 

If you have been blessed by this blog post and would like to see others benefit too, would you please consider giving a tax-deductible contribution to support determinetruth ministries and make possible future posts like this? You may give a tax-deductible gift by following this link

Good news: If you wish to view this blog on your smartphone through the Determinetruth app simply download the “tithe.ly church” app on your smartphone and insert “determinetruth” as the church name you wish to follow. Once it is loaded, simply click on the “blog” icon and they will automatically load.

If you would like to have Rob speak at your church or organization in person or via zoom, please let us know by filling out the contact info on the Contact me tab on this site.

If you would like to share your story, or if you have questions that you would like addressed in future posts, you may submit them in the Contact me tab on this site.

 


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