Recovering the Rainbow
Wed-4-Revival #145 Reed DePace February 5, 2019
A Weekly Prayer Devotional Seeking God
to Pour Out His Spirit in Revival on Us[*]
Recently, a young professing Christian excitedly told me about his church’s focus on the restoration of life’s purpose through Jesus Christ: human flourishing, in this world! His church has taught him to say he’s a sinner, to ask Jesus to be his Savior, so he could enjoy, yep, can’t help but say it, his best life now! This is a false gospel!
This human flourishing false gospel is common in evangelical churches. Not really explaining what the sin-problem is, or how Jesus’ life-death-resurrection fixes this problem, this is a soft-prosperity gospel that presumes the big three Jesus words (sin-Savior-salvation), and all their little relatives. Building on this gospel-presumption, this false gospel tells folks that God’s design is for them to flourish, to enjoy the fullness of life in this world. The soft-prosperity gospel mashes John 10:10 together with 1 John 2:16:
My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. … For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. (Jh 10:10; 1Jo 2:16 NLT)
This hopeful believer has been taught to use the word flourishing to describe this Christian-life purpose. It sounds good, like enjoying a life filled with flowers and no weeds. Yet the soft-prosperity gospel is actually a version of the Satanic lie that we can enjoy this world’s treasures and pleasures without culpability and corruption. Sadly, this Christian, and many like him in churches across our community and nation, are being taught God wants them to be flourishing flowers. Meanwhile:
… [The rich] will fade away like a little flower in the field. The hot sun rises and the grass withers; the little flower droops and falls, and its beauty fades away. In the same way, the rich will fade away with all of their achievements. (Jam 1:9-11)
The falseness of the soft-prosperity gospel is easy to recognize; just look to Jesus’s own life and words. If life-now-flourishing/no-consideration-of-sin is the Christian life’s purpose, surely Jesus modeled and taught this:
If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the gospel’s sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? (Mk 8:34-36)
Jesus is not the Gardener restoring this life’s flourishing flowers. He is our Homeless Hero:
Foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head. (Mt 8:20)
Our Hero calls and equips those truly saved to abandon dreams of this world’s blessings:
No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. … There is still one thing you haven't done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me. (Lk 16:1; 18:22)
There is a place free from all sin, where corruption never taints the enjoyments of God’s physical creation:
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. … And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. … The nations will walk in its light, and the kings of the world will enter the city in all their glory. (Rv 21:1-2; 24)
This has always been the hope and dream of those born again by the Spirit:
All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own. If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back. But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Heb 11:13-16)
It is this heavenly home that we too long for, once we’ve been born again, regenerated by the Spirit:
All these people earned a good reputation because of their faith, yet none of them received all that God had promised. For God had something better in mind for us, so that they would not reach perfection without us. (Heb 11:39-40)
Recovering the Rainbow
We can fight the soft-prosperity gospel lie by recovering the rainbow. It reminds us of God’s warning and promise. The rainbow warns that God is still watching. It reminds all people that God who destroyed the ancient world’s best life now dream is coming again to destroy the human flourishing dream of today:
They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of his command, and he brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water. Then he used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood. And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed. (2Pt 3:5-7)
The rainbow also holds out the gospel’s promise of the best life with Jesus, in the new heavens and earth:
And instantly I was in the Spirit, and I saw a throne in heaven and someone sitting on it. The one sitting on the throne was as brilliant as gemstones-- like jasper and carnelian. And the glow of an emerald circled his throne like a rainbow. (Rv 4:2-3)
My new friend, and all those like him hoping in a soft-prosperity gospel (any hope of the good life here and now), need to recover the rainbow’s warning and promise. God will not let any rebellion against him escape his wrathful judgment of eternal fire. Yet in Jesus, God promises that though we rebel against him, even racking up a record of sin higher than Sodom and Gomorrah’s (2Pe 2:5-6), he is willing to wash and cleanse us in Jesus!
Let us recover the rainbow, and proclaim to our family/friends/neighbors/strangers both its warning against the soft-prosperity gospel, and its promise of the best life then and there, with Jesus, in the new heavens and earth!
Dear Lord, we acknowledge that this world still draws us. Like the servant who buried your talent, we’ve given ourselves more to the hope of a good life here. We’ve allowed this false gospel of human flourishing to grab hold of and mislead many claiming your Son’s name. Forgive us for our cowardliness and selfishness. Then give us the joy of taking to them the gospel. Let them recover the rainbow’s warning and promise.
Restore to us the years the locusts have eaten. Pour out Your Spirit in revival on us. To Your glory, together with Your Father and Your Spirit, we ask, Amen.
[*] This weekly prayer devotional focuses our attention on some aspect of our need for the Holy Spirit to bring revival to our church. Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you (Ps 85:6)? For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They shall spring up among the grass like willows by flowing streams (Isa 44:3-4). Pick a 15 to 30-minute time-block in your schedule over the next week and use this devotional to focus your prayers. As you can, consider fasting from a meal and using that time to pray for revival in our church.