David Wilkerson was truly a modern-day prophet, calling people to repentance, and especially calling out the “church” for its apostasy. He was unapologetic in his criticism of the false teachers and preachers of the “Prosperity Gospel” and “Word of Faith” movement and of those who expect favor from God without submitting to His will. Our excerpt today is from his message “True Grace” from 1993.
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14).
According to Paul, we are not walking in grace until we have broken from worldly corruptions. Unless we are endeavoring through the power of the Holy Spirit to lead godly and righteous lives, looking for the Lord’s coming in our every waking moment, we do not know God’s grace.
Many Christians want forgiveness, but that is all. They do not want to be delivered from this present world, because they love it. They are attached to their sins, not wanting to give up the pleasures of this earth. So they cling to a doctrine that says, “I can live as I please — as long as I say that I believe.
They do not want to hear about obedience, repentance, self-denial, picking up their cross, taking on the yoke or burden of Christ. They simply want to be excused on Judgment Day — to have all their iniquities overlooked. They expect Jesus to open up the pearly gates, put His arms around them, and lead them down a golden street to their reserved mansion, even though they have never broken from the spirit of this world!
Paul writes, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2). We are to break from this world completely and be conformed to Christ alone!
Words of Grace for Strength
Unfortunately, the “church” today is filled with “Christians” who reflect the very attitudes that David Wilkerson spoke of 20 plus years ago. More than ever before the church has adopted the ideas and appearance of the world. Rather than being separated to Christ, the church has embraced materialism and humanism in a culture of tolerance and compromise. In today’s culture, Man’s will rules supreme.
Those who call themselves “Christian” in many cases are no different from those who claim to be atheist or agnostic. Not only have they not broken from worldly corruption and desires, they have no intention to. They speak of a god of love who will not condemn anyone to a literal hell because of his love for Man. Unfortunately, they are half right. God is a loving God, but it is they who condemn themselves to hell because of their unrepentant disobedience to His will.
So, the problem with many who identify themselves as “Christian” today is that they believe Jesus is the Son of God (but even the demons believe this), and that He loves them (which He does), and that He died on a cross and rose from the grave (which He did).
But they have never truly repented and turned from their sinfulness, they are still living worldly lives.
Because this is the state of their belief, they believe Jesus is God, just not their God. Their gods are all of the worldly pleasures and things they will not turn away from. Ultimately then, they are their own god, which means they have completely bought into Satan’s lie. They have not recognized that Jesus Christ is the only means of forgiveness and salvation, and they have certainly not placed their faith and trust in Him alone as their Savior.
True Christianity requires one to have experienced God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness is conditional on Man accepting the gift of grace which Jesus Christ provided and paid for by His finished work at Calvary. By accepting the free gift of grace, Man acknowledges his sinful state, the debt he owes, the need for repentance, the price which was paid, and the need to surrender his life and his will to the sovereign will of God.
When one accepts the gift of grace, he is acknowledging Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of his life, he is forgiven and becomes a follower or disciple of Christ. It is at this point that obedience, repentance, self-denial, picking up his cross, and taking on the yoke or burden of Christ becomes important in his life. This is what it means to experience true grace; he has become a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Disciples of Jesus Christ expose and reject ungodliness, they have broken away from worldliness and worthless pursuits, they do not tolerate or compromise with unrighteousness, they study the Word of God so that they may live in obedience to God while pursuing God’s will for their lives. Disciples of Jesus Christ are indwelt by His Holy Spirit who opens the Word to them as their teacher and comforter.
The disciple of Jesus Christ desires a closer relationship with Him as he longs for and looks for His return. True disciples of Jesus Christ have experienced forgiveness and deliverance because of true grace. And, that is the reason for the transformation which takes place in their lives. True disciples do not just believe in Jesus, they know Him as their Lord and Savior. True disciples have counted the cost of walking away from the attitudes and values of the world, and count them as nothing when compared to the incomparable riches of a life with Christ, life in Christ.
Do you know Him? Are you His disciple? Or are you kidding yourself?
Dr. Tucker Whitaker and Andy Coticchio
Rafter Cross Ministries