Friday, April 29, 2011

David Wilkerson's message to Assemblies of God

I'm always skeptical--maybe I should say "discerning"--of those who claim to be giving direct revelation from God as David Wilkerson does in the following message. I won't pass judgment on whether his message is direct revelation from God, but I do think it is an outstanding article. 

For those who don't know, David Wilkerson was the founder of Teen Challenge and the author of the best selling book, The Cross and the Switchblade, about his work with gangs in New York City. Rev. Wilkerson died this week as the result of a fatal head-on car accident. 

The following are excerpts of Rev. Wilkerson's article. When you have time, please read the entire article.

The Dangers of The Gospel of Accomodation [sic]
A sermon given by David Wilkerson at an Assemblies of God headquarters chapel service.By David Wilkerson
I am not coming to you as a pastor but with a prophetic word. God so shook me recently with this message that I should bring it somewhere, sometime in Springfield. This morning the Lord, by His Spirit, spoke to my heart that this is the time. He has called me to be one of His watchmen, and I have wept over this and prayed that He will help me deliver the message in a spirit of love. This is not a chastisement but a warning for the Assemblies of God.
A New Gospel
Accommodate means to adapt, to make suitable and acceptable, to make convenient. A gospel of accommodation is creeping into the United States. It’s an American cultural invention to appease the lifestyle of luxury and pleasure. Primarily a Caucasian, suburban gospel, it’s also in our major cities and is sweeping the nation, influencing ministers of every denomination, and giving birth to megachurches with thousands who come to hear a nonconfronting message. It’s an adaptable gospel that is spoon-fed through humorous skits, drama, and short, nonabrasive sermonettes on how to cope—called a seeker-friendly or sinner-friendly gospel.
To begin with, those terms are unscriptural. The gospel of Jesus Christ has always been confronting—there is no such thing as a friendly gospel but a friendly grace.
This new gospel is being propagated by bright, young, talented ministers. They have come upon a formula which states you can go into any town or city; and if you have the right formula, within a short time you can raise a megachurch.
If you are a young man and have certain skills, you find those skills and a part of the city that would best suit you. You move into that area, poll it, and find out what the nonchurchgoers want:
“You don’t like choirs. Well, would you go to a church that didn’t have a choir?” Yes.
“You don’t like to wear suits. Would you go where it’s informal?” Yes.
Then you go to your computer and design a gospel that will not confront but will shoot out the desires and the needs of the people. After you have gathered a handful of people, you keep interviewing them to find out what they want; then you design your message to help people cope with their needs. The program you design is intended to make the church comfortable and friendly for all sinners who wish to attend.
This gospel is fast becoming the most prosperous and flourishing of all religious movements. Thousands attend these churches. The pastor is the CEO, and it becomes a business. They make no bones about it: They are following Madison Avenue tactics and can make a success of it.
Paul’s Warning
Paul warned of the coming of another gospel and another Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4). He warned the church that it’s really not another gospel but a perversion of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. If you hear any other gospel, he said, let that preacher be accursed. In other words, no matter how pleasant, how pious, or how sincere, if the message is not the death of sin through the cross of Jesus Christ, let it be accursed.
I tremble when I read in the Scriptures that in the last days Satan is going to come right into the church posing as an angel of light. He’s going to take ministers who, at one time, had the touch of God, and he’s going to transform them into angels of light to become his tool of deception.
That’s frightening. It causes me to fall on my face before God for such false, deceitful workers transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. No marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore, it’s no great thing if ministers also are transformed as the ministers of righteousness whose end shall be according to their works.
Paul said they are going to glory in the flesh, in their bigness, their numbers, their influence, and their contemporariness. They will boast they are contemporary, that there is a gospel that is out of style that doesn’t reach human need anymore. They will glory in the world’s acceptance. Jesus warned, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15). The context of that warning was: “Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth to life, and few there be that find it” (verse 14).
His warning was to beware of the wolves who are going to say it’s really not that narrow and straight—they are going to come posing as submissive sheep. Jesus put His finger on the cause: ambition—ambitious ravening wolves. In the Greek it means “starved for recognition and quick gratification, quick growth.”
Jesus left no doubt about His meaning. For example, He was addressing a struggling pastor who has worked for years and hasn’t seen the kind of growth he wants to see. A young man with an accommodating gospel moves into town and within a very short time has a megachurch. People are flocking there because there is entertainment; it’s a gospel of fun. I’ve been in some of them. It’s the gospel of entertainment that has no conviction whatsoever. There is very little in their gospel that speaks to sinners of repentance, brokenness, and cross-bearing. A Christ is preached, Jesus’ name is mentioned, but Paul said their’s is another gospel, another Jesus.
God’s Method
Certain men of God met at Antioch to send out men to preach the gospel and establish churches (Acts 13). Here is God’s method:
1. They ministered to the Lord and fasted. This was their planning session—worshiping, fasting, waiting on the Lord, and calling for direction from the Holy Ghost. They did not move until the Holy Ghost spoke. There were no formulas, no surveys, no door-to-door asking people what they wanted and then serving it to them.
2. They prayed—no strategizing, no network, and not one step until the Holy Ghost spoke His mind. Then and only then did they lay hands upon them, anoint them, and send them out in the power and demonstration of the Holy Ghost.
I see three things in the gospel of accommodation:
1. It is the accommodation of man’s love for pleasure.
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers…of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1–4). The Greek for pleasure is “sensuous, lustful, voluptuous, exciting, gratifying, sensual pleasure.” If you move toward this gospel of accommodation, you are going to have to accommodate the people’s lust because they are not going to give up their love for excitement. They’ve made gods of sports, pleasure, and lust. Unless that is confronted by the gospel of Jesus Christ, unless there is a truth that comes forth, you have to accommodate this lust that is in the American lifestyle.
I was shocked by an article in the New York Times.1 Philip Wogaman, President Clinton’s pastor, said, “Sexual misconduct does not automatically render a leader immoral. Morality should also be judged by indicators like courage, concern for the poor, fostering world peace, running the economy responsibly, and furthering racial equality. Heterosexuality and homosexuality are merely cultural expressions.” In other words, Mr. Clinton has been told that he has enough good indicators to overrule another that would be immoral in his life.God said that men who preach doctrines like these resist the truth; they are men of corrupt minds counterfeiting the faith.
In disbelief I watched a televised Sunday night service of a seeker-friendly church—seeker-friendly by its own admission. To a packed church where thousands attend, the pastor said, “This is fun night, a David Letterman night.” The youth pastor came out and did his monologue as David Letterman. Then they showed 10 of the most boring things teenagers do during preaching. Three of the 10 were throwing spitballs, yawning, and picking their noses. The crowd went crazy. After the service, the pastor brazenly announced, “We’re not here to offend people, but to make church comfortable for everyone.” I wept.
2. This gospel of accommodation accommodates all man’s aversion to self-denial.The gospel of Jesus Christ is one of self-denial. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Self-denial is not something you give. It’s someone you give up—the giving up of yourself, giving up everything you are. It’s a living sacrifice to the Lord Jesus Christ to present your body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. God has every right to say to His church, “If you expect to give Me your body, your resurrected body, all through eternity, I have every right—it’s only reasonable of Me and your reasonable service—to ask your body why you’re here on earth. I want every part of you. I want you to be spiritually minded. I want to possess you.”
The gospel we preach must bring people under the total possession of the Lord Jesus Christ. Otherwise, it’s a gospel of accommodation.
3. There is an accommodation of man’s offense to the gospel.
The Scriptures state, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumblingstone and rock of offense.” Paul spoke of the offense of the Cross. This is the heart of God’s anger. We’re not called to the Cross but to go through the Cross—to experience the same thing Jesus did, not only coming to the Cross but dying and going into the grave with Jesus Christ and then being raised from the dead to a newness of life.
It’s cruel, pastor, to lead sinners to the Cross, tell them they are forgiven by faith, and then allow them to go back to their habits and lusts of the flesh, unchanged and still in the devil’s shackles. If the preaching of grace doesn’t have as its goal the producing of a walk of righteousness, then it’s another gospel, another Jesus.
I listened in horror to a man, who attended one of the largest seeker-friendly churches, being interviewed by CBS. He said, “I come to this church because I’m comfortable. I’m never made to feel uneasy. I bring my Jewish friends and my business friends, and I know nothing will ever be said that will offend them. The best part of it is, the whole thing only lasts an hour.”
May we get our eyes off growth and onto a new revelation of who Jesus is.