Quotes from Paradise Restored, by David Chilton
This is a book about hope. For too long, Christians have been characterized by despair, defeat, and retreat. For too long, Christians have heeded the false doctrine which teaches that we are doomed to failure, that Christians cannot win — the notion that, until Jesus returns, Christians will steadily lose ground to the enemy. The future of the Church, we were told, is to be a steady slide into apostasy.
“But if the world can be saved, if we can win, then that means I’m expected to have to work and sacrifice to make that salvation happen.
Nah. I’d rather focus on my job and my sports team.
Same for my pastor, who’d much rater avoid making waves, causing trouble, and losing tithe money by disturbing the pew-warmers with dramatic, demanding calls to action.”
Social action projects were looked on with skepticism: it was often assumed that anyone who actually tried to improve the world must not really believe the Bible, because the Bible taught that such efforts were bound to be futile; as one famous preacher put it, “You don’t polish brass on a sinking ship.” That slogan was based on two assumptions: first, that the world is nothing more than a “sinking ship”; second, that any organized program of Christian reconstruction would be nothing more than “polishing brass.” Evangelism was an invitation to join the losing side.
“But if we’re always submissive losers, we won’t have to face the dangers of the REAL power over our lives, the secular opinion-leaders, politicians, judges, and policemen.”
A.K.A.; we worship what we truly fear.
This was rooted in two problems. One was a false view of Spirituality. The unbiblical idea of “spirituality” is that the truly “spiritual” man is the person who is sort of “non-physical,” who doesn’t get involved in “earthly” things, who doesn’t work very much or think very hard, and who spends most of his time meditating about how he’d rather be in heaven. As long as he’s on earth, though, he has one main duty in life: Get stepped on for Jesus. The “spiritual” man, in this view, is a wimp. A Loser. But at least he’s a Good Loser.
“If we don’t cause trouble,nobody will hate us. And we won’t have to risk anything, or sacrifice anything.”
The teaching of the Bible is very different. When the Bible uses the term Spiritual, it is generally speaking of the Holy Spirit (which is why I use a capital S). To be Spiritual is to be guided and motivated by the Holy Spirit. It means obeying His commands as recorded in the Scriptures. The Spiritual man is not someone who floats in midair and hears eerie voices. The Spiritual man is the man who does what the Bible says (Rom. 8:4-8). This means, therefore, that we are supposed to get involved in life. God wants us to apply Christian standards everywhere, in every area. Spirituality does not mean retreat and withdrawal from life; it means dominion. The basic Christian confession of faith is that Jesus is Lord (Rom. 10:9-10) – Lord of all things, in heaven and on earth. As Lord, He is to be glorified in every area (Rom. 11:36). In terms of Christian Spirituality, in terms of God’s requirements for Christian action in every area of life, there is no reason for retreat.
“But, the great thing about Gnosticism is that we don’t have to get involved in the real world, take real risks, or suffer real pain! Who needs that? Much safer to spout mystical spiritual babble, without any real-world consequences, in our Sacred Temples.”
The second obstacle to Christian action has been an eschatology of defeat. Our eschatology is our “doctrine of last things,” our expectation of the future. And there is no question about the recent expectations of many Christians: we have looked forward to failure. The world, as we noted earlier, was regarded as a sinking ship.
If you look forward to failure, if you expect failure, then you will most certainly receive failure.
God has no problem with rewarding faithlessness, cowardice, and trembling fearfulness before Mighty Men.
Of course, no Christian believes in ultimate defeat. All Christians know that God will be victorious over the devil at the end of history. As a young Christian, I remember my Bible teachers informing me that they had “peeked at the last chapter (of the Bible), and the Christians win!” But that is just my point: according to certain popular brands of eschatology, victory takes place only in “the last chapter.” In time, in history, on earth, the Christians lose.
So, to review:
God’s agents and people are failures in the real world.
And Satan’s agent and people are winners in the real world.
Indeed, God’s people are such worthless servants, that Christ Himself has to come down and do the work His people were just too fearful and craven to do on their own.
“Hey, that’s exactly what they taught in seminary!”
It makes me wonder who, exactly, is the Lord over these seminaries.
The world is getting worse and worse. Antichrist is coming. The devil is running the world, and getting more and more powerful all the time. Your work for God in this world will have no lasting effect, except to save a few individuals from hell. But you’d better do it quickly, before the Tribulation hits, so that you can escape in time. Ironically, the unintentional message of this gospel is: Antichrist is coming! There is some- thing terribly lopsided about that.
You worship who you fear.
What I am saying is this. The eschatology of defeat is wrong.
Insert astonished gasps, all across Christendom.
“You mean we are expected to actually teach the nations to obey Christ and His commands? Don’t be delusional! We all know that God’s words have no meaning, since He doesn’t actually expect His servants to really obey His impossible demands.”
Worthless servants will receive a fitting reward.
Let’s not find out personally what that reward is, hmm?
The Spiritual man is the man who does what the Bible says (Rom. 8:4-8). This means, therefore, that we are supposed to get involved in life. God wants us to apply Christian standards everywhere, in every area. Spirituality does not mean retreat and withdrawal from life; it means dominion. The basic Christian confession of faith is that Jesus is Lord (Rom. 10:9-10) – Lord of all things, in heaven and on earth. As Lord, He is to be glorified in every area (Rom. 11:36).
Now, you know the mark God has set for you.