The End Time Visitation of Jesus Christ:
Rejection of the Presence
Hand in hand with the confusion of His Presence, Jesus was rejected by those who most self-assuredly believed themselves to be the people of God. The spiritually self-assured are those whose confidence has come to rest in their own faith fortified by their learning in the scriptures, usually over a long period of time. The first time, this self-confidence was most blatant in the class known as the Pharisees who bitterly opposed the Lord.
Wherever Jesus visits, He threatens and destroys the power of spiritual self-assurance. He referred to the self-assured as those who believe they are spiritually “well,” contrasted to the “sick” who know they need salvation (Lk. 5:31). The truth however was that those assuming themselves to be so “well” were actually the sickest of all. They were not just blind, but “born blind” (Jn. 9:40-41).
The spiritually self-assured lose capacity for objective self-examination and teachability and thus for continuing spiritual growth. Their only growth potential is in the ability to reinforce self-confidence through more learning. They thus auto-reject any invasive challenge to their belief structure by a spiritual manifestation that threatens their mental security, unwilling to risk any objective consideration that might expose their own lack of spirit-sensitivity.
Instead, they muster pre-packaged, prejudiced argument against any spiritual reality they recognize has capacity to penetrate their mental shield. This includes seeking pretext of any fault with the spiritual reality by its association with unworthy people that might justify their rejection of it (e.g., Mt. 11:19; Jn. 8:48). In the extreme, they will attribute the challenge of spiritual reality to the devil, which seals them into a position of irredeemability (Jn. 8:48; Mt. 12:24>31-32)—a most dangerous place to be feared, indeed.
Wherever Jesus went, He was rejected out-of-hand this way. It might be the determined rejection by the religionists (Mt. 12:14), or the reactive rejection of initial fair-weather believers challenged to a provable continuance (Jn. 8:31ff). Or it might be the quiet disappointed rejection of anyone whose comfort was put at risk (e.g., Mt. 19:21-22) or whose own self-serving expectations were denied (Jn. 6:60-66).
Of especial import is the rejection Jesus incurred by visiting those whose erroneous spiritual beliefs and practices He Himself could not approve. We are speaking here of the Samaritans, to whom He reached out, yet whose false beliefs He confronted (Jn. 4:22). Nevertheless, because He dared to visit those holding a false form of faith, He Himself was rejected by the correctly orthodox (Jn. 8:48).
In the modern visitation, everything is completely the same. Jesus’ visits to the end time churches are repeatedly rejected by the “believers” to whom He comes, particularly by the scripturally self-assured. This rejection is most associated with those streams of the faith identified today as “fundamentalist,” “evangelical” and/or “reformed,” who hold some disdain for the “unlearned” ones who do welcome His Presence:
Jn. 7:49 adapted “But this charismatic crowd which does not know the Scriptures is totally deceived.”
Before proceeding, we must note that the rejection of Christ came not only from Pharisaic religionists, but from among the prophetically “pure” outside all corrupted established religion, self-assured in their own “wilderness” discipleship—willing to receive Jesus’ visit on some terms, but not others (confusing even the stellar John the Baptist!)
So it is today that, as before with the Samaritans, if Jesus today visits the Roman Catholics in their falsity, His visit is rejected as false, whether by the correctly orthodox or the prophetic purists. And if He visits those of the “unlearned” who receive Him unworthily or even in the company of a “Judas,” His visit to them is also rejected as false (i.e., as “false revival”).
All rejections from within the controversy that Jesus stirred fall under His larger founding purpose of heart proving His people across the complete spectrum of faithfulness and disobedience. As we already established, at all times and places of visitation, Christ is searching everyone’s hearts and minds, to give to everyone of us according to our works, whether we reject Him unworthily, or receive Him unworthily. The idea of unworthy receiving leads us to our next parallel….
Stupor under the Presence
Outside Jesus’ rejection by the learned was a different self-assurance among the receiving masses—a passive self-assurance. This self-assurance lay in the belief that, because Jesus had come to them, He must therefore be pleased with them—otherwise He would not have come. They trusted the fact of His Presence in their midst to be a validation of themselves.
We know this to be true because Jesus said that at the judgment, many of the commoners would offer the mere fact that He had dwelt among them as their basis for believing He should receive them into His kingdom:
Lk. 13:26 Then you will begin to say, “We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets”; 27 and He will say, “I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.”
To the great contrary, that Jesus made His Presence known throughout Israel, and that the “common people received Him gladly” so as to “eat and drink in His Presence” said nothing of His state of pleasure with them. To no place Jesus went offering His signs had He anything to say by way of praise and flattery—such as “I am here to show My approval of you, for you have shown yourselves worthy of my visitation. I praise you for having come to see Me and am blessed by your desire for more of My miracles. How I love you all so much….”
No, never. Rather, Jesus unflattered the adoring crowds. He asked, “What did you really come out here for? In truth, you really have no ears to hear anything substantive I have to say. Rather, the more time I spend with you, the duller your hearing!” More precisely said He,
Mt. 15:8 “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me. 9 But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men….13:13 … because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. 14 In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says, ‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; 15 for the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes, otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them.’”
Paul restates this sharply:
Rom. 11:8 …just as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes to see not and ears to hear not, down to this very day.”
The truth was that, in their own self-assured receiving, the crowds had a false sense of relationship to Jesus based on a deceptive corporate experiential high attending His visitation. Underneath their gladness, their hearts were actually closed to His internally conditional truth requiring a repentant identity-severing response together with the self-sacrifice necessary to pleasing Him.
Because of this heart condition, Jesus’ Presence among the larger throng of worshippers worked against them. It actually sealed their heart closure, deluding them into a semi-catatonic state—that is, a state of stupor.
- The Presence Is “Killing” the Church
In the 150 year course of Jesus’ modern end time visitation, those church streams that have welcomed “the Presence” into their midst have, like Israel’s populace, succumbed to the false belief that Jesus’ palpable spiritual Presence signifies God’s intrinsic pleasure with their state of spirituality. Many have looked on their own participation in the various “moves” of God as securing their place “on the cutting edge” of “the heart of God.”
Yet amidst these end time emanences, however named, the opposite reality has been true. Large swaths of self-confident Pentecostal-charismatic-prophetic-“bridal” worshippers “under the Presence” have actually been lulled by Jesus Himself into a state of spiritual stupor. The more we crave “the Presence,” the more repetitive and monotonous our self-indulging worship of God’s “sloppy wet kisses” over us, the duller we grow inside the corporate ecstasy, the more deluded in the belief of God’s satisfaction with us.
Today, techno-excited meetings, churches, conferences, associations, ministry rooms and media whose hallmark claim is to “hosting the Presence” saturate the Western church. Yet one walks into these scenarios only to encounter a lethargic fog of humanist homilies and self-affirming platitudes proclaiming God’s “unconditional love” (that is, His unconditional pleasure with us) carrying no true “edge” at all.
Yes, the Presence is there, but all His oxygen—that is, His sound, challenging and offending truth that ignites true spiritual fire (as seen in His visitation to the seven churches of Revelation)—has been sucked out of His aura—replaced by the sleepy carbon dioxide of the worshippers’ own exhale—or even by the deadly carbon monoxide of false idol worship—i.e., the appeasing “toleration” of this jezebellic culture. Indeed, if the pilot light of truth is allowed to go out upon Christ’s Presence before us, He becomes to us as a noxious gas (i.e., a “savor”) of death (see II Cor. 2:16).
For this cause Jesus warned us to take heed how we hear Him when sitting before His visitation. There are natural consequences for encountering the Presence of Christ while remaining unchanged by Him. Don’t play around with this. Assume nothing about your relationship just because you “felt” Him in the room, and heard a “good” prophecy or “good music.” For by our refusal to hear and obey in the inward parts the true cutting-edge disciplinary (s)word of the Lord, His Presence becomes an agent of suffocation to the church. The Presence by default is killing the church, which God’s glory will do to anyone who encounters Him unworthily. As He put it to the Sardisians,
Rev. 3:1…”I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 3 So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.
The Sardisians were a Presence-filled church with almost no flame left. They self-assuredly believed that Christ’s visitation proved they were alive, but they were really dead. They were without His heart-piercing oxygen and so were suffocating under His Cloud. They were going into death sleep. God’s Presence was now “anaerobic” to them, a breeding place for spiritual cancer. “For this cause many are weak and sickly, and many sleep.” So it is today.
To this end the Lord warned the end time church against foolish virginity (Mt. 25:1-13). In that parable, the wise obedient virgins slept in the deserved rest of an established flame kept burning within their hearts. Though they physically slept, their hearts remained awake (S.S. 5:2). But the foolish self-assured ones fell into a spiritual death sleep, “vaping” on an empty spiritual lamp whose Sardisian pilot flame was dying, leaving them to breathe in poison gas. Their foolishness corrupted the ointment (oil) of God’s Presence among them, causing it to “stink” with such vapors (See Eccl. 10:1).
Let the wise understand how the spirit of stupor-death may remain quite alive and well under the Presence of Christ in the church.
(To be continued...)
New Meadow Neck, Rhode Island
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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Page created January 2, 2020