Saturday, January 22, 2011

The "Come As You Are" Gospel


Psalms 24:1-5
1The earth is the LORD's, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
2For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.
3Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?
4He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.
5He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

The “Come as you are” fad is a relatively new development in Christianity.  What we see commonly today was not so common as little as forty years ago.  The idea suggests that coming to Church requires no forethought whatsoever, that God is so eager for you to worship Him that he has no requirements at all to impose on the worshipper.  This fad, which has spread all over America and I am sure to other countries, is so prevalent today that it has become the mantra of most mega-churches and is the slogan of modern church growth gurus.    Why it is not uncommon to see a banner hanging outside a worship facility with these words boldly proclaiming, “Come as you are.” 

Churches today are so desperate to capture another warm body to fill a spot on a pew that they will stoop to any level to achieve this go.  They say to the masses with banners and slogans, “Come as you are”!  They are telling them: “We don’t care how you dress – just come to church.  We don’t care if you have a hangover – just come to church.  We don’t care if shave or comb your hair – just come to Church.  We don’t care if you wear a rock-n-roll t-shirt – just come to Church.  We don’t care if you wear a mini-skirt – just come to Church.  Shorts?  No problem!  We just want you in our Church.  You do not have to change.  No one is going to put any pressure on you.  You can join the choir.  You can teach a Sunday school class.  You can even serve on the board.  Come as you are.  We will love you and no one will ever hassle you.”  Folks, this is no longer about reaching sinners this is the philosophy of those that “think” they are saved.

I want to examine these questions: Where did this come from?  What does it mean?  Who started this?  And, why is this idea destructive to true worship?

Here are a few examples that I have seen:
1.      Charismatic church in my local area with a banner across the front that says, “Come as you are.  You’ll be loved.
2.      Lutheran Church with the bold words across the top proclaiming, “Come as you are.
3.      A “Cowboy Church” had these words spelled out on its lettered sign, “Come as you are.  Let’s worship the Lord.”

Right about now you are probably thinking, “What is wrong with that?  Are we not supposed to tell the sinner that they do not have to clean their lives up to come to Christ?  Isn’t the Church a place where people can come “as they are” and have Christ change them?” 

I want to make one thing emphatically clear that I am not saying that a person has to clean themselves up before they come to Christ.  I have heard the old saying all my life, as I am sure you have, “You have to catch the fish before you clean them”.  Unfortunately, the “Come as you are” fad is no longer targeting sinners but now appeals to worshippers.  We now have a whole generation of worshippers that believe they can worship God, and might I add, live for God, any way they please.  They mistakenly believe that God will take them just like they are or He will not have them at all.  I heard B. H. Clendennen say once, “Then God will not have you at all”.

This “Come as you are” slogan tends to confuse people about the nature of God.  People have lost their reverence for God, respect for the House of God, and honor for the things of God.  I believe much of this can be traced back to this casual, lazy idea that we can approach God any old way that we want to.  Because of this people are confused about how to worship and serve the Lord.

The questions must be asked: Can people really come as they are?  Are we free from any preparation when coming to God?  If we must prepare ourselves for service to the King then what preparation is there? 

The initial approach of the sinner to God is certainly, “Come as you are”, but it is only in the sense that we can do nothing in ourselves in order to please the Father.  We cannot work hard enough to please Him.  We cannot give enough of our money, time, or efforts to please Him.  There is nothing we can do in our flesh that would ever please God enough to save us.

The initial approach to God is based on the shed blood of Jesus or else God would kill us on the spot.  A better saying than “Come as you are” would be, “Come as He is.”  For it is Christ, and Christ alone, that enables us to come to the Father.  Without Jesus no one could approach the Father.

John 14:6
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

No man can come as “he is”.  He must come through who Jesus is.  Our approach to the Father is solely based upon the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.  To “come as we are” is a fleshly approach.  Every person that comes to Father must come on the basis of what Jesus did at Calvary.  It tell you again: It is not “Come as you are” but rather “Come as He (Jesus) is” that will get us access to the Father’s mercy and grace.

We need to look at the Word of God and see how men and women approached the Holy God so we can better understand our approach to God.  Did they come as they were when they approached God?  I want to give you two examples from the Old Testament.  I know already some of you are saying the veil has been rent and the Old Testament no longer applies, but we must remember that Calvary did not change God – His nature is still Holy – Calvary changes us. 

Again let me say here, the come as you are ideology may have originally been targeted at sinners but today we see that it has washed over into the Church.  People come together at Churches with the intention of worshipping God any old way they want.  They come in shorts, tank tops, pants with holes all in them, pajamas, and, what else?  The list goes on and on.  You need only go back forty or fifty years ago and things were a lot different.  As soon as the “Come as you are” idea came into the Church people began to readjust their thinking about worship.

Look with me now at two glaring examples in the Old Testament:
1.     The Priests could not come as they were to offer sacrifices to God- God gave them strict guidelines on how to dress and how to cleanse themselves in order to approach God.  Look at this scripture:
Exodus 30:17-21
17And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
18Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein.
19For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat:
20When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the LORD:
21So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.
2.      Moses could not come as he was to the burning bush- God would not allow Moses to approach the burning bush with his shoes on.  God’s command to Moses was “Put off thy shoes”.  There has been much speculation by many preachers over the years exactly what this referred to but the point is, Moses had to change something about himself before he could approach a Holy God. 
Exodus 3:4-6
4And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
5And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
6Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.

The text at the beginning of this message says if you want to ascend the hill of God and stand in the Holy Place that you must make preparation.  These scriptures have correctly been applied to Christ, for He is the holy lamb without blemish.  But, we as well must have “clean hands” and a “clean heart” if we intend on “ascending” to God in worship. 

If people would spend time preparing their hearts to come and worship then God will surely send revival to the Church.  A prepared and holy heart is going to be reflected in our dress, manners, and attitude. 

This is the correct way to approach God:
1.      Holy- They that approach the Lord must be holy.  The following scripture your about to read is not just something you do it is something that you are.  We must worship God by giving Him praise but we must also live a life that is pleasing unto the Lord.  Such a life is a life that has beautified by holiness.  So we understand it is not just how we act in corporate worship, it is how we should be all the time.
1 Chronicles 16:29
29 Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
2.     Fearfully- We must approach the Lord with fear and respect.  What happened to the fear of the Lord?
Psalms 111:10
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever
3.      Humbly- We should never be arrogant or proud, but we should be humble.
Isaiah 57:15
15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
4.      Faithfully- It is useless to approach God without faith.
Hebrews 11:6
6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
5.      Boldly- If we have done our part then we can be bold.  A man that has something to hide, sin, cannot be bold.
Hebrews 4:16
16Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
6.      Patiently- We should be patient when seeking an answer from the Lord.
Isaiah 40:31
31 But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
7.      Consistently- God wants us to be consistent in our seeking Him.
Luke 18:1-8
1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

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