No Romanticism in Christ

By John Thiel

Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

In my travels I was listening to the verbal rendition of Testimonies to the Church Volume 5 by Ellen White and I heard something that made me think and prompted me to share with you this message;

We are living in a time when even greater earnestness is needed than in the apostles’ day. But among many of the ministers of Christ there is a feeling of unrest, a desire to imitate the romantic style of modern revivalists, a desire to do something great, to create a sensation, to be accounted able speakers, and to gain for themselves honor and distinction. {5T 132.3}

The phrase that captured my attention was that the ministers try to capture the style of modern revivalists. A romantic style of modern revivalists. What does the spirit of God mean with this phrase – the romantic style? We have grown up under an atmosphere in these modern times that excites emotions. Old fashioned religion is unsatisfying and I’ve heard it being said it’s boring. It’s the old fashioned religion that causes people to go to sleep in the congregation and we ask ourselves why this is the case where in the times of the old days where people were animated with the story of Jesus and the deep things of the bible and today it’s a weariness. What has caused this? We are living in an era of excitability. Television with its entertainment is continually exciting the attention of people with its stories in living representation in films and novels with all their romance. As we have grown up in this atmosphere, notice what the spirit of God helps us to understand with regards to what effect it has had on the human race including the church;

I counsel the youth not to devote to the reading of story books or fictitious tales the precious moments now given them in which to make preparation for eternity. Such reading will surely unfit the mind for the enjoyment of solid reading, which strengthens the intellect and improves the morals. Story-book reading creates an appetite for exciting stories, leads the mind away from the Scriptures, and disqualifies for duty; it makes the precious words of God, which should be of the highest value, dry and uninteresting. The mind must be fed with pure food if the heart be pure. The moral taste is perverted by fictitious reading. {YI, August 3, 1887 par. 10}

This was written in the days when there was no TV but in those days there was the theater and that was written as being the hotbed of iniquity. Today the living theatre has been transformed into film going. As a story is played out in front of the people’s minds as a picture it creates an appetite for exciting stories. It leads the mind away from scriptures. It disqualifies for duty.

You know not the deceptions of the human heart. You know not the devices of Satan. Some who have drawn largely upon your sympathy have a sickly, diseased imagination, are lovesick, sentimental, ever eager to create a sensation and make a great ado. Some are dissatisfied with their married life. There is not enough romance in it. Novel reading has perverted all the good sense they ever had. They live in an imaginary world. Their imagination creates a husband for themselves such as exists only in romances found in novels. They talk of unrequited love. They are never contented or happy, because their imagination pictures to them a life that is unreal. When they face the reality, come down to the simplicity of real life, and take up life’s burdens in their families, as is woman’s lot, then they will find contentment and happiness. {2T 302.1}

What has romance done to people? Women’s liberation. It has given them the sense that the home, training the children and running the home that is menial. We want something more romantic than that. It has come from novel reading and theatre going and today it is rampantly displayed for those who have been brought up with television looking for those fantastic live stories. It has romanticized life and removed it from reality. Is not this mentality rampant in the churches of today? People have a need and the minister’s sense there is a need of reviving the church spirituality. How do they reach the minds that have become so affected? How best can they do it? By a romantic style of modern romanticism because if its done any other way they lose their congregations. Old fashioned religion has lost its power. The mind has been deceived and perverted. What does the scripture have to say in reference to old fashioned religion?

By many man’s wisdom is thought to be higher than the wisdom of the divine Teacher, and God’s lesson book is looked upon as old fashioned, so much so indeed as to be thought tame and stale. But by those who have been vivified by the Holy Spirit it is not so regarded. They see the priceless treasure, and would sell all to buy the field that contains it. In the place of bringing into our schools books containing the suppositions of supposedly great authors, they will say, Tempt me not to disrespect the greatest Author and the greatest Teacher the world has ever known, who gave his life for us, that by his death and resurrection we might have everlasting life. {RH, July 3, 1900 par. 19}

The bible, the lesson book of God is looked upon as old fashioned in the minds of those who have been so educated in the romantic realm of modern living. Do you find sometimes is it easy to listen to the preaching of Gods word without any embellishments to thrill you with some sort of story that wakes you up? We are surrounded today by preachers who are captivating listeners with anecdotes that charm the minds who have been looking for excitement. To be an ordinary preacher of the old class is old fashioned and stale. Those who have been vivified by the Holy Spirit they don’t find that. They find treasure worth pursuing.

 The Lord desires His servants today to preach the old gospel doctrine, sorrow for sin, repentance, and confession. We want old-fashioned sermons, old-fashioned customs, old-fashioned fathers and mothers in Israel. The sinner must be labored for, perseveringly, earnestly, wisely, until he shall see that he is a transgressor of God’s law, and shall exercise repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ. –Undated Manuscript 111. {Ev 179.5}

What do we want? Old fashioned. That is what the spirit of God says is what we need. For a true revival to take place, not a modern revival, a true revival, we read what it means;

Before the final visitation of God’s judgments upon the earth there will be among the people of the Lord such a revival of primitive Godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children. At that time many will separate themselves from those churches in which the love of this world has supplanted love for God and His word. Many, both of ministers and people, will gladly accept those great truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time to prepare a people for the Lord’s second coming.. {GC 464.1}

Just as john the Baptist did. If this is what is going to take place, old fashioned preaching, a revival of that, what is the counterfeit? This so called romantic style of revival, what is that? The romantic style of revival. It’s exactly the same as modern courtship that leads to marriage in modern times. Courtship and marriage today carries a method of romance doesn’t it? I have an interesting quote which brings it perfectly when a young couple falls in love. They fall into a romantic experience don’t they? Then under that romantic experience, they really believe they love one another. When the romantic experience takes a second place when they have to face living and making life together, all of a sudden something happens;

 As life with its burden of perplexity and care meets the newly wedded pair, the romance with which imagination so often invests marriage disappears. {AH 105.3}

You wonder why there are so many divorces and remarriages these days because modern courtship has done the exact same as modern revivals have done. It brings people to a decision from a romantic source but when the realities strike, romance is gone.

Husband and wife learn each other’s character as it was impossible to learn it in their previous association. This is a most critical period in their experience. {AH 105.3}

Romance is not reality likewise modern Christianity with its romantic style of revival. Have you listened to revivals of the modern style? Remember the days of Billy Graham. Thousands of people heard his messages and from those crusades came into existence a people who are thrilled for an emotional love for Jesus. Its very heart wrenching and the romance of those people makes them Christians. These are the modern revivals. Notice what it is and how it’s the romance that enters people into marriage;

Popular revivals are too often carried by appeals to the imagination, by exciting the emotions, by gratifying the love for what is new and startling. Converts thus gained have little desire to listen to Bible truth, little interest in the testimony of prophets and apostles. Unless a religious service has something of a sensational character, it has no attractions for them.. {GC 463.2}

As they are stirred emotionally to give their hearts to Jesus Christ they have in their imagination a sort of romantic appreciation of Jesus Christ. How is it, what sort of music do they play, what sort of songs do they sing? Are they the same sort of melodies the world around us is using for their courtship? The same melodies and courtship mentalities? This is modern revivalism.

But many of the revivals of modern times have presented a marked contrast to those manifestations of divine grace which in earlier days followed the labors of God’s servants. It is true that a widespread interest is kindled, many profess conversion, and there are large accessions to the churches; nevertheless the results are not such as to warrant the belief that there has been a corresponding increase of real spiritual life. The light which flames up for a time soon dies out, leaving the darkness more dense than before. {GC 463.1}

What a letdown when you thought that you were married to a person that you love and then when you discovered the romance is gone and you feel absolutely bereft. So it is with people who have been brought to Jesus Christ in a romantic style. For a period of time there is excitement and joy and starry love for Jesus. When I hear these people speaking, I tremble as I love my Jesus Christ very much but give it another year or so and they will go into darkness because the realities of following Jesus come home and the romance is over. Like they say, when the honeymoon is over, that’s it. Many hold an imagination that Jesus is my Lord and I express it with deep feeling for my Lord in a romantic imagination. When confronted with the real Jesus, our scripture reading comes into focus. The real Jesus stands before them and what were the words? They will come to him, Lord, oh Lord, don’t you know me?

Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

What was that? They weren’t told when they wake up in the revival that you are going to really have to do what God wants you to do and it will cut across your comfort zone. When the rubber hits the road, things are different. Jesus said they that do the will of the father.

Matthew 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

This is serious isn’t it? There is no romanticism in Christ. Only reality. Notice how scripture describes this scene. There are people who are very emotionally and romantically wrapped up with the preaching of certain preachers and the preaching of Jesus on the level of romanticism. God knows exactly what is happening;

Ezekiel 33:31 And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee [as] my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, [but] their heart goeth after their covetousness. 32 And, lo, thou [art] unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not.

Can you see romanticism? People dream of these beautiful words. They dream thoughts of the beautiful concepts coming from the lips of the eloquent speaker and be so transported but when it comes to doing what God wants them to do, they don’t want to. With their mouth they show much love.  You know how it is in a romance, I love you darling. How many a person has said that but they don’t love. Wonderful words of emotion that have no reality in them.

Isaiah 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:

The mentality of man is that the fear of God is romanticism but the heart is not involved when it comes to the test. We have grown up in this love sick sentimental generation and it is a normal thing to us. We expect romance and imaginary loveliness. We want to live happy ever after as in Beauty and the Beast. This is a big shock when people come to Jesus Christ and then expect to live happily ever after because the reality is not so. If you follow Jesus you will suffer persecution.  If you follow Jesus, you will feel badly about your sinfulness. If you follow Jesus you will feel a deep sense of your unworthiness. The only sense you have is that you are walking in the right path.

 Some mingle with their religion a romantic, love-sick sentimentalism, which does not elevate, but only lowers. It is not their mind alone that is affected, but others are injured by their example and influence. {RH, March 12, 1872 par. 9}

Lay aside all romantic imaginings and castlebuilding. The Master calls you to meet the stern realities of the time in which we live. {RH, December 18, 1888 par. 18}

What happened in Victoria Australia 2008? Fire, stern realities. It’s only going to get worse. People are going to be shattered. How can they survive in the stern realities that are laid out before us in God’s word? In the stern realities all romance withers away. As a properly matched couple survives stern realities we must ensure that as we embrace Jesus there is an unmasking in the realities in the embracing of Jesus. When a couple courts they must not be romantically affected, they must see if they truly match so when the stern realities come their marriage will survive. So it is in the Christian walk, we must know the real Jesus. We must know him as he is in the stern realities of life. This is poorly known today.

How many today see Jesus Christ the saviour of the world as he is? How few know him? How few know the father? Everyone that knows Christ has knowledge of the father. To see Christ as he is, is one of the greatest blessings ever come to the fallen humanity. The precious saviour to see him as he is, how many have partial views of Jesus Christ. How many acknowledge him as the world’s redeemer, but they know him not as a personal saviour. This is essential, the knowledge of God in Jesus Christ. CT 258

How few know him. I’ve heard people say I just want to know Jesus because the father is too austere for me. Jesus is a wonderful person but the father makes me tremble.

Every man that hath this hope in himself purifieth himself. The living faith that lays hold of the arm of the infinite God, the living faith that takes Christ as a personal saviour. Who knows him as thus? All your casual views of Christ will not save a single soul. Do you know him by the living connection of faith? CT 258

The casual views of Jesus as they are conveyed in modern revivalism is this wonderful saviour who saves us from the consequences of sin, but to save us from sin itself is another story. The casual view is rampant in the Christian world but the real Jesus, the Jesus who unveils the realities of the sternness of the battle between good and evil who reveals to us the struggles it cost him to save us from sin and the struggles it will cost us to enter into fellowship with him, that is hardly heard of. What does the real Jesus do?

Jesus encouraged everything that pertained to the real interests of life. But he laboured to breakup romantic and dreamy contemplations. ST August 8 1896.

Those who say Lord, Lord, they are praising the Lord with songs of praise and they get transported into this emotional thing, you’ve seen them. He says you call me Lord but I don’t know you.

Behold I Stand at the Door and Knock

One item of Christ’s love to us which Christianity in a shallow sense has dressed up in an unreal romance while Jesus didn’t mean it at all like that. Here is a verse that touches the heart of the emotions;

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

You can see the artist’s romantic rendition, the typical picture of Jesus standing at the doors house and he wants to go and spend time with them, sup with me. To sit down and sup together with Jesus, to recline on a comfortable reclining chair with Jesus with a luscious table filled with all kinds of delicious food under the cool shade of some majestic oak tree, companionship, isn’t that the picture portrayed? What did Jesus mean when he said that? Read Revelation 3:19 and 21. What did Jesus actually mean when he said behold I stand at the door and knock?

Revelation 3:19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

Does this suggest a romantic scene? I love you. I’m going to rebuke you. I’m going to rebuke and chasten you. What are you meant to be doing? If you open the door I’m going to sup with you in my love. You must overcome as I overcame. What did Jesus suffer? What did Jesus do to overcome?

Hebrews 5:7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

What is the story? You need to overcome as I overcame. Knock, knock, can I come in and experience it with you? I am the author with strong crying and tears who pleaded with God to save me. You’re going to have to overcome but you can’t do it alone and I want to do it with you. Was Jesus rebuked and chastened, for us and with us he was. Not for his sin but mine. In Gethsemane, Father if it be possible let this cup pass. Can I join in with you? Will you let me participate with you? Even the mother of James and john had to be relieved from her romantic imagination. Notice what Jesus says;

Matthew 20:20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping [him], and desiring a certain thing of him. 21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. 22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able. 23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but [it shall be given to them] for whom it is prepared of my Father.

What sort of an image did she have? A fairytale image. He’s the prince, he’s doing to sit on the throne, let my sons sit with him.  To be able to sit on the throne with him, what happens before hand? Behold I stand at the door and knock. If you will let me in, you will indeed sup with me. You will drink the cup that I drink. You will drink the cup that I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with. That is the precursor to sitting on the throne. He who overcomes as I overcome will sit with me on my throne. This is a direct connecting link with what Jesus said. The romantic concept is totally removed.

There is no a romantic sitting at the table with Jesus, there is a real down to earth life reality in walking with Jesus. Indeed we all will sup with him if we will overcome at last. If we refuse to let Jesus into our hearts, we will sup it alone and perish. The cup that we sup is the consequences of our own sins and Jesus invites us to let him in on the experience so we may die with him and rise again.

You are not to treat your life as a romance, but as a reality. You are to be a laborer together with God in forming a character that He can approve. {TSB 51.2}

If we will not treat our life as a romance but unembellished reality we will come forth unto eternal life and I praise God that we have this privilege. As I pointed out from scripture, if we dwell in an unreal world, in a romantic style of spiritual revivalism, we will be bitterly disappointed. May God grant us to appreciate the realities of the gospel of Jesus Christ and be prepared to let the real Jesus encourage everything that pertains to the real issues of life but breaks up romantics?  If you permit this to happen you will be the happiest person on earth. I’ve long given up romantic dreaming. As I do this, I enjoy a relationship with God that has to do with down to earth reality. As people around me are falling apart, the Lord is holding me. When things are going really bad you can still walk joyfully with your God.

Amen.

Posted on July 23, 2009, in Divine Service Sermons and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. ey am touch by dis sermon nd most of words are new on my ears.. 2 God b da glory amen

  2. Sherry Feliciano

    Being brought into this message 33 yrs. ago when they still taught you about jewelry,meat eating,the sanctuary, 3 angels, victory over sin……I have always wondered why the whole praise and worship thing made me feel so uncomfortable now I understand. Thank you for this sermoon. I will definately
    pass it on to fellow believers.

  3. Sabbath Sermons

    I agree! I love it too!

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