The seven-mountain teaching has widespread influence, as has its elder brother, the transformation teaching. I have increasingly become concerned about this emphasis been taught in the body as I see such huge efforts been put into this – pursuing societal transformation as a goal in itself. It is the Christianisation of the unregenerate? It is behaviour modification? This all goes on while those able to steward the mysteries of Christ are hard to find.
The church has widespread influence, but it is shallow influence. In some spheres the difference between the world and the church is not noticeable. The need for reform within the church of Jesus Christ is screaming.
There exists the temptation of satan, to shift the churches focus to the visible demonstration of Kingdom power now by taking the secular bastions of power. Kingdom now theology has taken our eyes off the ‘hope of his appearing’ and placed it on the hope of a present triumphant Christian state of sorts. This is not orthodox, and this pursuit of the ‘kingdom now’ is costing the church. “My kingdom is not of this world …”
‘They are of the world. Therefore they speak of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God listens to us. He who is not of God doesn’t listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.”
1 John 4:5-6
Perhaps we are we speaking to those unable to hear us? The natural man cannot and does not understand the things of the spirit. What is the message of the church? Societal, external transformation of all seven domains of society? Or is it the preaching of the everlasting gospel of Christ to every creature in the cosmos in every deliberate and explicit way?
The methods of the kingdom must match the message of the kingdom. What country are we representing? Definitely the Heavenly Jerusalem.
Making low the seven mountains in the church
I see Jesus focussing His message at the hearts of men. I see key figures of past historical revivals focussing their preaching and message at the hearts of men, not at transforming secular institutions and culture of the seven mountains of society. Transformation and the yeast effect is a by-product of preaching the gospel of the kingdom. But as a goal to transform the culture of the world?
There is a danger, a temptation, to again make the eternal message of the gospel and make it a message of worldly reform instead what it was meant to be – the yeast of the gospel of the Kingdom. His Kingdom is not of this earth. His kingdom is within i.e. it is invisible, functioning from its source, the realm of the Spirit.
We need to get the world out of the church! We are in the world but not of it. Come out of her, my people! There should be a difference. There should be separation between state and church. There are two governments. The temporal secular government carries the sword, the government of the church is a government of another kingdom, an unseen kingdom not of this world and it carries the keys to the eternal kingdom of Christ. Let us not blur these borders. Let us respect the borders.
When Paul and Jeremiah teach about the nature of our relationship with secular authorities they say clearly:
“I exhort therefore, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and givings of thanks, be made for all men: for kings and all who are in high places; that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who desires all people to be saved and come to full knowledge of the truth”1 Timothy 2:1-4
“Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to Yahweh for it; for in its peace you shall have peace.”Jeremiah 29:7
The primary nature of our relationship with governments of the world is prayer for peace, so we can lead tranquil and quiet lives, conditions conducive to the gospel to be spread and people becoming thoroughly discipled. An obedient Christ-follower by his nature causes his light and salt to have its anti-corrupting effects. Carnal Christians do not do this, obedient sons do. It stands to reason there is no more a complete transformation agent possible in any city or nation than that of the obedient and mature church.
God has a pattern of changing things. He rescues and redeems a corrupt nation or city by reforming his light bearing menorah, the church.
“For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household.”1 Peter 4:17
Two ships in two Storms
You see in the story of Jonah and the memorable sea passage of Paul’s journey to Malta a striking example of the churches role. … the same scene but with two very different outcomes. In Jonah’s story we see the disobedient church causing loss to their host – God almost sinking the ship because of the churches disobedience. In Paul’s story in Acts, we see an obedient church saving lives and goods. The world’s safety, peace and economy depend on an obedient church! The world suffers and thrives at the obedience levels of the church of Jesus Christ in that locale.
We are the head and not the tail. Pray for an obedient church! We see the focus on the obedience of the church, not the transformation of the worldly crews, although they certainly are blessed and begin to fear God.
Did Martin Luther address his 95 theses to the seven secular cultural mountains of Germany 501 years ago? No, the 95 reforms were squarely aimed at the Holy Catholic Church. That changed everything. It effected beneficial societal transformation of Western Civilisation, to this day. Whenever the true gospel is preached and restored in shakes the planet for the good. The new creation race is born, is resurrected in power. Worms become butterflies and deadly societal sins begin to wither and die.
We can fall into a grave distraction, no matter how noble a distraction it may seem, of trying to reform that which Jesus declares, “Let the dead bury their own dead!”. God chose Israel as a special people to be a light the nations (Isa 49) in the old covenant, so the church becomes the new-Israel and becomes the light of the world in the new and better covenant. ‘You are the light of the world’, Jesus said.
Societal Saltification VS Societal Transformation
The corporate Body of Christ only has two hands. What is in her hands? What are we busy with? The third Person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, has a unique operating model, the Spirit is in nature like the wind, you do not know from where it comes or where it goes … the Spirit of God can be gusty, a gentle summer breeze or thunderous hurricane! God does what He wills. I know brothers that are burnt out trying to transform the institutions of society with just good Christian principles and hard work … not possible.
Not by might, not by power but by the Holy Spirit. Burn out. Transformation burn-out. Spent energy. Time lost. Societal saltification comes because of seeking the kingdom first in every aspect of life, it follows in the wake of the procession of Christ, Christ embodied in an obedient church. A new creation is the point, renewed men and women living renewed Christ-like lives in every sphere and corner of society – this is the holy nation of 1 Peter 2. South Africa, the land, hosts two nations, the Holy Nation and all the other nations and tribes.
What if our light becomes darkness? What if the light becomes mixed light, dimmed light? How great then the darkness in the earth?
Christianizing the World VS Discipling the people in Nations
Does creating clean-morals-media-content on the media mountain, which is Christian in nature but not explicitly, able to save the lost? Or does it help to Christianize the world, like Constantine did by converting his empire to Christianity? Christianise, but not convert: inoculate but not cure? Do we not lose our edge when we aim to Christianise the seven mountains, without the offence of the cross or the offence of the only name of Christ? We do Christian things but do not want to use Christ’s name, to be ‘heard by the world’ and in order not to offend.
The church has lost its edge because we no longer can offend with a scandalous gospel spread in a scandalous way, by fools for Christ. The gospel is not just an altar call, it’s a way of life, of dying daily and being resurrected in the Christ-life, daily and in every way. Before Ezra and Nehemiah arrived, Zerubbabel arrived, the first in the recovery process of Israel after the 70 years of captivity … what did he do? He began with the temple, 90 odd years before Nehemiah begun the walls … this is a pattern of restoration and rebuilding. God always begins at the heart, the inward and then works outwards. He reforms his house, the church, thereafter rebuilding to the city comes.
Our salt has become sugar
The church is the salt of the world. Salt is a preservative, it limits and inhibits corruption, but it does not transform that which it is preserving into salt. It understands it is salt. If it loses its ability to preserve, it’s no longer salt. Salt remains salt and meat remains meat. The distinction is sure.
Our salt has become sugar. Sugar and salt are both white, they look the same but are certainly like chalk and cheese. Salt creates flavour and destroys corruption. Sugar sweetens and then causes decay. Health experts call it ‘white cocaine’. We are not the sugar of the world. We are the salt of the world. Jesus never said we are the sugar of the world. Let us stop trying to force-feed the unwilling a sugar-coated gospel. Seeker sensitive to the next level is what we have become. Jesus emphasised we are not of this world. Where is the distinction between the world and the church of Jesus Christ? The world loves its own and hears its own. Why do we stubbornly remain amazed when the world does not hear us? Yeast does not turn bread into wine. It changes the bread but bread still remains bread.
Let the reformers, reform – the church! It’s not our business to reform the secular society, as a deliberate goal. The grave danger exists of blending. Blending kingdom culture with worldly culture. Evangelising worldly culture. The whole world is under the sway of the evil one. Paul talks about rulers of this present darkness … Transformation yes, of the human heart. Let the yeast leaven the whole lump. The church is corrupted and its walls – its separation apparatus from the world – is broken down with gaping holes. A corrupted church loses light and with it the ability to give the world – illumination – light to shine on a path of repentance.
Paul showed scandalous disinterest in making his disciples reformers and transformers of the world, for the sake of reformation and transformation. In loud contradiction, he places the focus of the readers of his epistles (and his lifestyle) to a resurrected Christ, a heavenly Christ, and what attention is left, he directs to the church to love one another and be good at loving one another, praying for a peaceful place to live, so that the gospel will not be limited. Christ and His body are his laser dot focus. This is where reformation and transformation need to happen. Reform the heart. Transform the mind. The seven mountains will incidentally, upon this primary and great work of heart change, also change. Of course, disciples need to be taught obedience, but when an obedient church is functioning as it ought, the world benefits from its light. Where are we aiming our prayers and intercession at? What is in our sights?
Let us destroy the high places in the church, where sacrifices are made to the god of this world, in the sanctuary, by the people of God. I imagine that if all the energy spent on reforming and attempting to Christianize the mountains of the world were spent on reforming the ruined walls and altar of the Church of Jesus Christ, the world would be a much better place.
Why does the church do this?
This is the thing, a church that does not want to repent, does not want to turn inward and look at its own stuff – yes, to get its own house in order, offers itself as a white knight on a white horse offering its services of reformation to the world around it. This is simply blame shifting la grande. We must stop the denial.
For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh.Galations 6:13
Too many want the ‘kingdom now’ so that they can boast in the flesh. Boast in the externals, in their accomplishments before God and the world – they want to make a difference, leave a legacy and be significant and be somebody – you know, to be known and have a world famous reputation for being righteous and Godly! Sjoe! Phew!
‘Only the people sacrificed in the high places, because there was no house built for the name of Yahweh until those days.’1 Kings 3:2
Christ’s Last Temptation and Ours
For the third test, the Devil took him to the peak of a huge mountain. He gestured expansively, pointing out all the earth’s kingdoms, how glorious they all were. Then he said, “They’re yours—lock, stock, and barrel. Just go down on your knees and worship me, and they’re yours.”
Jesus’ refusal was curt: “Beat it, Satan!” He backed his rebuke with a third quotation from Deuteronomy: “Worship the Lord your God, and only him. Serve him with absolute single-heartedness.”Mathew 4:8-10
Be careful what mountain of earth the devil offers you to sit atop in exchange for handing satan your talents, energy and affection. The kingdom of heaven is Christs Kingdom and it is not of this world. Don’t allow the devil to trick you into buying Jerusalem when Christ is offering the real deal – the New Jerusalem!
Let us go up to the house of the Lord and build its broken-down walls and restore Christ as center and let us seek and pray for the peace of the Republic of South Africa to do this great work with minimal interference and not fall headlong into the grave distraction of doing good things, apart from Jesus.