Thursday, November 1, 2012
" Your Best Life Now" is contrary to the gospel message as taught by Christ.
John Bunyan speaks out! Bunyan's voice from his prison cell in Bedford, England cries out with the warning that the Christian life is fraught with difficulties.
Bunyan summons us to view the Christian life from a different lens than the prosperous and pleasure-addicted churches that surround us today in our culture. Bunyan was imprisoned for 12 years for refusing to stop preaching the gospel.
John Bunyan was sent to prison having four children with his oldest daughter Mary born blind. John's wife has just passed away before he was sent to the Bedford County Goal.
Bunyan calls us to live in this world as a Pilgrim on our way to the Celestial City. In his book Pilgrims Progress, Bunyan tells how Christian starts his Pilgrimage on the Hill of Difficulty. On the contrary, we modern Christians have come to see safety and ease as our right.
We in our soft and comfortable churches sit and listen to fifty thousand dollar sound systems, to entertain and make us feel good. We have become soft and have come to relish the "feel good" message of Christianity. I can still hear Christian talking as he ascends the Hill of Difficulty:
"This hill, though high, I covet to ascend;
The difficulty will not me offend,
For I perceive the way to life lies here:
Come, pluck up, heart, let's neither faint nor fear!
Better, though difficult, the right way to go,
Than wrong, though easy, where the end is woe."
"Like the tearing of my flesh from my bones."
That's how John Bunyan described parting with his family after their brief visits with him in prison. Each time they walked away, John was reminded of the great difficulty his incarceration imposed on them, especially on his blind daughter, Mary. "What sorrow you are likely to have as your portion in this world!" he wrote. "You must be beaten, must beg, suffer hunger, cold, nakedness, and a thousand other calamities, even though I cannot so much as bear the wind blowing upon you."
Adding to John's misery was the knowledge that by just saying the word, he could be released. Just one simple statement—"I will not preach the gospel of Jesus Christ"—was all it would take to set him free to support his family again. But John couldn't do it. "I have determined," he said, "the almighty God being my help and my shield, yet to suffer, if frail life might continue so long, even till the moss shall grow on mine eyebrows, rather than thus to violate my faith." And so John waited on God for twelve long years in the overcrowded, unsanitary, poorly heated Bedford jail. Here's something of what he learned there.
How many of us could truly say as Bunyan said,
"Bless you, Prison, for having been in my life!"
The picture that the Bible paints and that of John Bunyan and all the suffering saints, is completely contrary to that of Joel Osteen's new book, Your Best Life Now, unfortunately Osteen's theology has taken hold in our flesh gratifying culture, a culture that screams "it all about me."
Christian, be willing to die to self, be willing to kill the desires in your life that are contrary to the will of God, be willing to pluck out an eye or to cut off a hand if need be. Allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in your life, don't quench the work of the Holy Spirit by fulfilling the desires of the flesh and carnal mind.
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