The Fragrance of Christ
Paul admonished his younger brother in Christ to rightly divide the Word of God.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)
The word for “divide” is (orthotomeo) and means to “cut straight.” it is said that in the Old Testament the Levite priests used a very sharp flint knife to cut open the bones of the sacrificial animals to expose the marrow to sunlight. They needed to cut straight or bear the consequences when cutting not so straight. Whether this is true I don’t know, but it helps to understand what Paul and John meant when they wrote :-
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)
And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; (Revelation 2:12)
The heart of man and everything in it is so intensely deceitful, wicked and far beyond man’s comprehension (Jeremiah 17:9) that only the Word of God can bring to light its hypocrisies and deepest secrets. Notice the phrase “intents of the heart.” Doing great things for others is praiseworthy and admirable but the intents and objectives of your good deeds may be desperately wicked. That’s precisely why Jesus said:-
Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. . . .
Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
(Mat 6:1-6; 16-18).
The intents of the heart are desperately wicked and reprehensible when your goal is to be seen, to be heard and to be praised. God says: “I will not give my glory unto another” (Isaiah 48:11b). Notwithstanding these clear-cut warnings in Scripture, many of the DRC’s pastors in South Africa have fallen prey to the Emergent Church’s unwritten rule that “it is OK to dispense of sound biblical doctrine in favour of Good Works.” Even some of those who have remained steadfast and aloof in their resolve to proclaim that Jesus Christ has risen bodily from the dead and not, as the Jesus Seminar asserts, been devoured by dogs, are beginning to associate the cross of Jesus Christ not only with salvation but also with one’s care for the poor, the destitute, widows and orphans. Ferdie Mulder, the ex-Tukkie student who laid a charge of heresy against Julian MÃ¼ller, Jurie le Roux and Dirk Human in 2006 says the following:
Now, one wonders, if the irreplaceable cross, death and bodily resurrection from the grave of Jesus is not only the basis for our salvation but also the basis for our care for the widows, orphans and the poor, why do we always Tweet, Facebook and Blog about what we believe and never about the widows, orphans and the poor? (Read) (1)
If the cross of Jesus Christ is as much a basis for caring for the poor, widows and orphans as it is for our salvation, then no one can do any social work in behalf of the poor, the widows and orphans unless they embrace the cross of Jesus. I can assure you that Muslims will definitely not agree. On wiki answers they tell us with aplomb how much they do for the needy and orphans.
To be good to your relatives, to the poor and the travellers: This is to remember that we are interconnected in this world. Our responsibilities are not only towards ourselves and our immediate families, but also to other relatives and to the society at large. We are all in need of each other and we are all fellow travellers in this path of life. We must see what we can do for others. Muslims must live a socially responsible life. Social responsibility begins with the family, other relatives and it includes all those who are in need.
To take care of the orphans: Orphans and all those who are vulnerable must be taken care of. Their rights must be recognized and they should be protected from all harms. A Muslim must be deeply committed to the care of young, poor, infirm and handicapped. Kindness and compassion is the basic commitment of a Muslim. It includes every one, including the animals.
No wonder Tony Campolo could say the following”-
We cannot allow our theologies to separate us” (speaking on the relations between Muslims and Christians) . . .
What can we learn about that kind of spirituality that can help us find common ground? No theological statements were made, no compromising beliefs, no attempts to come to a common denominator. And yet, a kind of spiritual oneness.
That’s the place where we come together, in common need and common suffering, as we reach out to one another in love, leaving judgment in the hands of God, sharing out of our own faith. I mean the last thing we are asking in those times is-is your theology the same as mine?-and vice-versa. All of the sudden in the hour of suffering there is a commonality. And that’s where we meet. It’s in mystical spirituality and in communal mutuality that’s where we come together. (2) (Emphasis added)
THE FOCUS HAS SHIFTED FROM FOLLOWING JESUS CHRIST TO THE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST AND WHAT THEY ARE DOING FOR HIM
Paul once said: “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1). The difference between Paul and today’s followers of Christ is that Paul preached and remained faithful to the unadulterated Word of God. He never compromised God’s Word for the sake of good or better relationships or to establish ecumenical common denominators with other religions. His focus on following Christ was to glorify Jesus Christ and to show others what it really means to follow Him. Today the focus on following Christ Jesus has shifted from the triumphant risen Lord who is now seated at the right hand of God, and an absolute obedience to Him, to an experiential and carnally satisfying gospel where faith is no longer a prerequisite to know God but sensory sensations like touching, feeling, tasting, hearing and smelling. Leonard Sweet in his book Soul Tsunami writes:
[The] Sink or Swim in New Millennium Culture says: “Postmoderns want a God they can feel, taste, touch, hear and smell – a full sensory immersion in the divine.”
In his manifesto “The Transformational Trek Tribe” Martoia also speaks about a “sensory worship” where experience and not faith takes centre stage.
To us Jesus says, “Wake up, change your mind, change your little thinking and start to waken to a bigger world out there. There is an invisible new reality you are going to engage and it is full of a new kind of life.” In the modern world in which we live this type of thinking will require a pretty big shift. (Emphasis added)
. . . You are part of something bigger than yourself. So why not engage practices that put you in touch with that bigger reality? Why not touch it, feel it, sense it and experience it?
. . . Jesus’ invitation #2 is into this bigger reality where the life of God is all around us, animating all that is and inviting us in to enjoy it! Again we will not be believing our way into this reality – we will be practicing and experiencing it. No bible studies or small group meeting will help. But practices designed to bring us awareness about that larger invisible reality will!Want to be a part of something that changes the game? That is what this tribe is all about . . . living, experiencing, sensing, and being! (Emphasis added)
Ron Martoia is actually saying “Faith in Jesus Christ and his immutable doctrine is OUT. Experiencing, sensing and being is IN.” What are the practices designed to bring about a metanoic awareness (a bigger mind) and to experience and sense the larger invisible reality? How do you become a part of something that changes the game and how do you determine who may partake in the “pretty big shift” in consciousness. In the very last paragraph of his manifesto Ron Martoia gives the answer:
Grow the tribe – pass the manifesto you just read to anyone on your mailing list that you think would be interested in this journey… or print it out and give it to them. There has to be at least a dozen you can think of. Their religious or lack of religious affiliation does not matter at all. This tribe will be composed of all sorts of people, many considering themselves spiritual but not religious.
This explains why Ron Martoia says that “we will not be believing our way into this reality – we will be practicing and experiencing it. No bible studies or small group meeting will help.” Faith in Christ Jesus, his cross and the Bible is a stumbling block to peoples’ of other faiths and the irreligious but spiritual people. So there must be another way we can assemble peoples’ of all faiths into one big united and loving tribe –MEDITATION!. Yep! MEDITATION in all its various formats, i.e. contemplative prayer, meditation (yoga, is supposedly the doorway that leads to God’s Kingdm on earth here and now where people of all religious persuasions may partake of the benefits of the new golden age as one united tribe.), stillness and even
Faith in the One true God needs to be destroyed if the Emergent Church’s endeavour to unite all religions is to be successful. This, as we’ve seen from the above quote, will be accomplished, among other things, through “a full sensory immersion in the divine” by means of the burning of incense and candles, (smelling) icons (seeing and touching), the Eucharist (tasting) and particularly contemplative practises (experiencing the presence of God). Apart from all these resources Scripture itself must be altered to accommodate the cultures of he world. Bearing in mind that 1.1 billion people out of the world’s population of 6.7 billion are Roman Catholic and 240 million are Eastern Orthodox it seems reasonable to say that a very large contingent of the world’s population is already immersed in “the divine” through contemplative practices. Add to this more or less 5 million practicing Sufis among the Muslim population who also participate in mystical contemplative practices, it amounts to nearly 5% of the world’s population who are already immersed in some form of meditation, contemplative spirituality and mysticism. This does not include the millions of New Agers and Protestant or Reformed churches who are increasingly being immersed in mysticism. It is therefore not an exclusively eastern or Roman Catholic phenomenon. It is a world-wide phenomenon spreading like wild-fire. Karl Rahner said, “The Christian of tomorrow will be a mystic, one who has experienced something, or he will be nothing” (Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, p.76).
Mysticism with all its accompanying practices (contemplative prayer, centering prayer, lectio divina, labyrinths, stations of the cross, incense and candles, silence, solitude, field gaze, field gaze with breath, gratefulness breathing, aural immersion etc. etc.) are designed to shut out all activity of the mind and to bring it into an altered state of consciousness. The standard phrase the emergent fraternity loves to use in the promotion of their practices is “The hectic life style of modern day people leads them to lose contact with themselves, with God, with other people and with creation.” Jesus Christ had a very busy and hectic life here on earth but neither He nor his disciples practiced any form of mystic contemplation to get in touch with themselves, God, other people and creation. Whereas the Bible warns us to keep our minds and thoughts alert, and to be diligent and watchful, contemplatives stress that you should go beyond the mind into a state of complete silence and inactivity. This is pure Buddhism and has absolutely nothing to do with true Christianity.
In Buddhism ÅšÅ«nyatÄ (emptiness) is the reality of all world existence. The Buddha allegedly attained ÅšÅ«nyatÄ through meditation and by doing so he liberated himself from uinsatisfactonriness (“suffering”, “stress”, “anxiety”, or “dissatisfaction”) and defilement (sin). It is evident from whence the Emergent fraternity derived their sing-song refrain “The hectic life style robs people of contact with themselves, God, other people and creation.” But wait a sec, the Bible teaches that there is only one thing that causes detachment and separation from God and that is SIN and not anxiety, stressfulness, business, dissatisfaction or unsatisfactoriness (Isaiah 59:2). It follows that the Emergent Church fraternity actually do believe that meditative practices cleanse them from defilement (sin). How else can you interpret it when they themselves assert that contemplative meditation restores broken relationships with God?
Notice carefully the posture of Johan Geyser in the photo on the left. It is called the kneeling Buddha. It is interesting to note that a office chair used in many companies is also called the kneeling Buddha seat. An Afrikaans Protestant cloister, probably the very first in the world, will be established near Krugersdorp in the vicinity of the Cradle of Humankind. Believe it or not, humankind did not originate in a garden east from Eden (Genesis 2:8-14) but right here in South Africa. Nevertheless, something probably just as unique as the creation of man itself is coming to our shores when ten permanent residents will manage the cloister. It is also unique in the sense that many Christian denominational streams will be coming together in this cloister, more or less in the same way the four great rivers that flowed from the one that watered the Garden of Eden. These denominational streams are the Pentecostal and Charismatic traditions and the Reformed Church tradition as well as the contemplative tradition of the Roman Catholic Church. What Neels Jackson, the journalist who wrote the article in Beeld (Friday, June 7, 2013) failed to mention, is that the cloister will also exude the spirit of Buddha. If you don’t believe me, look again carefully at the two photos on the left. It is very easy to spot the Buddha, wouldn’t you say? Dr Barry van der Merwe who is presently the pastor of the DRC congregation Letsitele will join the Mosaic Church in August to manage the cloister. A daily prayer routine and a service of hospitality will be established. Johan Geyser said that the most important task will be to establish the spirit of the cloister. There is really no need to inculcate a spirit because the spirit of Buddha has already taken over the cloister.
Mysticism is not limited to contemplative practices (contemplative prayer, centering prayer, lectio divina, labyrinths, stations of the cross, incense and candles, silence, solitude, field gaze, field gaze with breath, gratefulness breathing, aural immersion etc. etc.). It also has a great deal to do with your attitude to the poor, the suffering, the marginalized, the down-and-outs, the widows and the orphans. Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying that Christians should not care for them. However, when caring for them takes on a mystical skit, to the extent that Christ is seen to be mystically present in them all, and the alleviation of their suffering is seen to be an essential ingredient of Christ’s saving work on the cross (refer: Ferdie Mulder above), it begins to border on blasphemy. Consider, for instance Stephan Joubert’s bold statement:
“Remember: every person that you serve turns into an immediate friend of Jesus. Go one step further: see him or her as Jesus in disguise.”
Mother Theresa said the very same thing:
Whenever I meet someone in need, it’s really Jesus in his most distressing disguise.
The Salvation of lost sinners for all eternity is no longer the sole object of the cross; it has been so drastically changed that the focus has moved from salvation to the needs of the poor, the destitute, the widows and the orphans. Jannie Pelser of the Dutch Reformed Community Church in Rant & Dal, Krugersdorp summed is up as follows:
“Jesus did not come to save peoples’ souls. Jesus came to establish God’s rule on earth. His death on the cross and his resurrection represent the absolute and final victory of God’s loving power over all the violence in this world.”
“I dare you to show me where Jesus’ command was that people should make certain they are going to heaven. Show me one place where Jesus commanded us to make certain that people are going to heaven. Our duty is to go and tell people that heaven has already come to the earth and is breaking through into this world. And your, my, and our calling is to establish God’s approaching glory on earth and not to focus peoples’ eyes on a pie in the sky when you die while the world around is going lost in every day’s crises to make a living. It’s a wrong view of the Gospel.” (“Kruiskyk TV,” 29 April 2012) (Emphasis added). (“Kruiskyk TV,” 29 April 2012)
The inevitable outcome of such a flawed view of the cross is the deliberate twisting of his Word. Here again mysticism plays its part when verses and whole passages in Scriptures are changed to accommodate the Emergent Church’s social gospel. The following quote from Stephan Joubert articleproves beyond any doubt that the message of the cross and Christ’s victory over Satan, sin and the world is no longer centre stage in the Mystical Emergent Church.
Jesus has a distinct scent. He smells of the exclusive fragrance of life. Sometimes he also smells of sinners. And at other times He smells of broken ones, hungry ones, lonely ones… After all, it’s between the broken, searching and hopeless ones that He spends most of his time. Jesus often takes people’s faults, pains and sins onto his shoulders. Their pains become his pains. He also swaps their fragrances for his. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, which was such a pleasing aroma before God (Eph 5:2), becomes the new life fragrance of every Jesus-follower. He floods them from head to toe with the scent of heaven. That’s what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 2:13-16.
Jesus’ aroma is now also our own fragrance. We smell like Him. We give off his scent. We spread his exclusive life-fragrance. We are heavenly aroma in living, moving, talking form. Everywhere we go people smell the scent of heavenly incense.
Christians never smell neutral. We can’t. Then we’re using the wrong deodorant! The we suppress the life-giving fragrance of the heavenly perfume that God poured out over us. Jesus’ smell sticks to us forever. We can’t follow Him without smelling like Him. Our Jesus-scent is our identity. But Jesus is also busy spreading this fragrance world-wide. We’re full-time spreaders of his life-giving heavenly aromas. That’s why we need to smell Jesus in those people around is who need Him. And we need to deliver his scent there. We need to pass it on. And spread it further. That’s how the good fragrance of the gospel spreads.
Let’s analyse Joubert’s “deodorant” in the light of God’s Word.
- Jesus is now seated at the right hand of God the Father where He ever lives to intercede for all the believers as our High Priest and Advocate (Hebrews 10:12; 1 John 2:1). If, as Stephan Joubert claims, Jesus often smells of sinners, He could never have been exalted to his glorious position on high. In fact, had He exuded the slightest odour of a sinner, He could never been seated at the right hand of God the Father. Jesus took all people’s sins on his shoulders only once when He cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?” It is sheer blasphemy to say that He still often takes people’s faults, pains and sins on his shoulders. Joubert’s assertion is an outright denial of Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross.
- Joubert says that “Jesus’ aroma is now also our own fragrance. We smell like Him. We give off his scent. We spread his exclusive life-fragrance. We are heavenly aroma in living, moving, talking form. Everywhere we go people smell the scent of heavenly incense.” and that “that’s what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 2:13-16.” No Stephan that’s’ not what Paul writes. In verse 15 he says that real Christians are to those who are saved an odour of life unto life and to those who perish an odour of death unto death. There’s nothing mystical about the smell Christians exude. They do not discharge the fragrance of Christ Himself but, as Paul says, the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ which his disciples spread when they preach his unadulterated Gospel. We do not spread his fragrance when we dole out alms, do goody-goody deeds and care for the poor, the widows and the orphans. If that were so even the most radical Muslims would be spreading the fragrance of Christ and I don’t think they would be too happy with a smell like that. Paul verifies in verse 17 that it is the preaching of Christ’s unadulterated truth that causes his disciple’s to exude his fragrance. “For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.” Anyone who does not preach the unadulterated word of Jesus Christ cannot claim to spread Christ’s fragrance.
- Stephan Joubert’s closing statement “That’s how the good fragrance of the gospel spreads” seems to echo what I had just said in the above few points. However, when you listen again to what he said about three of the most prolific mystics in South Africa – Trevor Hudson, Johan Geyser and Willem Nicol – it is not so difficult to see whose fragrance he actually spreads.
Today’s new saints are those who in solitude find peace and quiet with God and manifest it in genuine ways. They are the silent voices of hope. Their own mysterious discoveries of God’s goodness is magnetic. They are the new signposts who help people to find meaning in their lives. They are endearing fellow travellers to God’s heart that leads people into new relationships with God. People like Willem Nicol, Trevor Hudson and Johan Geyser are telling examples of this spirituality.(1)
Do people find peace with God when they practice contemplative silence and solitude or through the blood of Christ’s cross? (Colossians 1:20).
Dr. Willem Nicol is known to have publically denied that Jesus is the only way to God. He writes:
“There are people who on a daily basis experience what significance the Bible has for their spirit, . . . It is understandable that many of us do not enjoy the Bible any longer . . . especially the free spirits who are interested in meditation feel that the Bible is too restrictive.” Whatever your belief is, silence helps you to open yourself more to it (your faith convictions) and to be formed by them (Willem Nicol: “Gebed van die Hart” [Prayer of the Heart“], p. 12).
Non-Christians are also invited, especially the ones who are interested in meditation. Many religions experience the value of silence in different ways, and insofar it is good, it actually does come from God, so that our experiences should open paths to one another and to Him.” (Ibid, p. 14).
I don’t need to say anything more about Johan Geyser’s fragrance. The photo above tells it all.
I have often pleaded with Stephan Joubert to repent and to renounce publically any association with the Emergent Church and their affiliates. May God open his eyes to the dangerous path he is journeying before it’s too late.
Stephan Joubert, “Jesus. ‘n Radikale Sprong” (“Jesus, a Radical Leap”), p. 199-200