I was reading another one of Phil Johnson’s post over at Pyromaniacs today. He was delivering up “your weekly dose of Spurgeon” in an article entitled “Avoiding Spiritual Dry Rot“. Please go and take some time to read it. It is well worth it. Just to whet your appetite, here is a small portion for you:
In the same way, some men still remain in the ministry, and yet the soul of their ministry has gone. They have a name to live, yet they are dead: what can be worse than this condition? One might almost sooner have an explosion, and have done with it, than see men continuing to maintain the form of religion after vital godliness has gone, scattering death all around them, and yet maintaining what is called a respectable position. God save us from this last as much as from that first! If I am a rotten bough, let me be cut off; but to hang upon the tree, all verdant with parasitical lichen and moss, is deplorable. A respectable ministry, devoid of spiritual life, is little better than respectable damnation, from which may God deliver us!
When men drift into this condition, they generally adopt some expedient to hide it. Conscience suggests that there is something or other wrong, and the deceitful heart labours to conceal or palliate this fact. Some do this by amusing themselves with hobbies instead of preaching the gospel. They cannot do the Lord’s work, so they try to do their own. They have not honesty enough to confess that they have lost gospel power, so they ride a hobby; and it is a very mild form of evil when they raise some side issue, which has no other fault about it than that it diverts them from the main point. Many are these playthings; I have no time to mention more than one.
I have known certain brethren give themselves solely to expound prophecy. Now, a man full of the life of God may expound prophecy as much as he likes; but there are some who, having lost their love of the gospel, try to win back what little popularity they once had by taking up with guesses at the future. They may be quite, sure that, if they cannot profit men by bringing them to the manger and the cross, they will make a complete failure of it if they handle the seals and the vials.
That is good stuff. I have seen this first hand during the four months my wife and I spent attending a Charismatic church. We left after things started to really get weird–prophecy (just as Spurgeon warned here) had taken a more important position than the gospel, and it was becoming more and more about the spiritual gifts in the body than the Giver of all good things. As things took a turn for the weird, one of the things that occurred to me was that in the entire time we had been going to that church, NO ONE “got saved”, was converted, etc. A few of the more troubled souls in the congregation had completely fallen off and returned like a dog to the vomit of their former sin. One fellow confided in me (I have no idea why) and what he told me was almost beyond imaginable. I was horrified. Yet for the most part, everyone was over-excited (like almost intoxicated) with whatever “revelation” they were experiencing. I am thankful that God put me there when He did. For, even though my experience of “revelation” during that period of time amongst that charismatic congregation was dramatically different from most of the rest of the folks in that church, God was definitely revealing some things that were good for me to see. What He revealed to me was how much and how quickly error could seep into a church when it abandoned its first cause and its only glory: the gospel of Jesus Christ. I thank God that He has took us through that just and just as much that He brought us out of it. My soul is overjoyed to be attending a truly gospel-centered church where sound doctrine is taught, esteemed, and cherished. Thank God for the gospel and for those who boldly proclaim it.
Peace & Blessings!