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MTD and True Prayer #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green
The Truth Network Radio
June 2, 2022 8:00 am

MTD and True Prayer #1

The Truth Pulpit / Don Green

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June 2, 2022 8:00 am

It's been said that one reason God allows difficulties and tragedies in our lives is because it's the only time He hears from us- Well, we hope that's not true of you. But on this edition of The Truth Pulpit, Pastor Don Green will examine what true prayer should look like as we continue our series deconstructing Moralistic Therapeutic Deism titled Deception Close to Home.--TheTruthPulpit.comClick the icon below to listen.

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Moralistic therapeutic deism is a completely false view of reality.

It has nothing to do with the way that things really are. It's been said that one reason God allows difficulties and tragedies in our lives is because it's the only time He hears from us. Well, we hope that's not true of you, but on this edition of The Truth Pulpit, Pastor Don Green will examine what true prayer should look like.

As we continue teaching God's people God's Word with our series Deconstructing What's Called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism in our series titled Deception Close to Home. I'm Bill Wright, and Don, how does moralistic therapeutic deism corrupt prayer? You know, my friend, it's possible that your view of prayer has been conditioned by a philosophy that you've never even recognized before. The idea that prayer is what you do when you need something that you can't get on your own, and you turn to God for help in that. And the Lord certainly hears our cries for help, but prayer is supposed to be so much more than that. Our Lord taught us in His prayer in Matthew 6 that we're to pray daily, that we're to praise God and confess sin.

Do you know something about those elements in your own prayer life? The Bible points us the way, and we're going to look at it today on The Truth Pulpit. Okay, Don, and friend, have your Bible open and ready as we join Don Green now in The Truth Pulpit. There are five basic tenets, as we have seen, to moralistic therapeutic deism.

MTD as we abbreviate it. And we've kind of reviewed the first three of those in our prior messages. We're going to look at point number four here today. But just by way of review, the fundamental premise, the foundation of this spiritual philosophy is that there is a God who exists, who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth. Secondly, the next aspect as this has been defined by those who have written on this, that the demands of God are pretty simple. God wants people to be good and nice and fair to each other as taught in the Bible and in most world religions. Thirdly, what we looked at last time, the central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about yourself.

That's all by way of review. Well, let's come to the fourth thing here, which is our new material for today. Point number four, the fourth part of their so-called creed, is this. God does not need to be particularly involved in your life except when he is needed to resolve a problem. God does not need to be particularly involved in your life except when he is needed to resolve a problem.

Now, we just see this all around us. People have no regard for God, they're going through life and they're perfectly happy, but then a tragedy hits or financial reversal comes and all of a sudden they're wanting to cry out to God. Because the problem is beyond their capacity to solve, they're looking for something higher in order to fix their situation. And look, Christ is more than willing to receive sinners who come to him in faith, crying out to him for salvation, wanting deliverance from sin. But what we need to distinguish is a purely selfish and self-centered mindset that simply wants God to fix stuff for us so that we can get back on the road of what we wanted to do. And to realize that there is a distinction between that and coming to Christ and saying, I want to serve you, I need you to save me, I want to belong to you, I give my life over to you completely and unconditionally, and the principle that guides my life now is thy will be done, not mine. Those are completely different aspects, completely different mindsets that's about our orientation toward who God is and who Christ is.

And it does us good to think through these things, beloved. As we have seen out of Philippians is that there are aspects, there are ways of thinking about being a Christian that involve us as thinking about ourselves as the slaves of Christ. He is the master and we are the slave who owes him total obedience. That has no place in moralistic therapeutic deism.

It has no place in most of what passes for Christian preaching these days. We are saints by which it means that we are set apart to serve his purposes, that we exist to fulfill the expectations and the purposes and the design of God that he has established for our life and to take whatever talents and resources and time that he has given to us and to use those and to spend those in his service, to advance his kingdom, to advance his name, to advance his glory. That's why we exist, that's why we have the things that we have, that's why we have the relationships we have, to be an instrument that is serving the purposes and the glory of God in whatever areas of life he's given to us. You're a saint, you're set apart for that. And, you know, I didn't plan the nature of the pulpit this way for these things to fit so perfectly together.

I'm not near smart enough to plan like that. This is just providentially what the Lord has for us in the life of our church. And so, with this aspect, with these thoughts of being slaves of Christ, being saints in Christ Jesus, this mindset that God does not need to be particularly involved in your life except when he is needed to resolve a problem.

Well, based on what we've seen on Sundays, you can see immediately that that can't possibly be true. This is diametrically opposed to what is right and what is accurate about being a Christian. And the truth is, is that this spirit that keeps God at a distance, this philosophy, this way of thinking and feeling about spiritual matters that keeps God at a distance like that is a disguise for something else.

It's a disguise for the sinful autonomy of man and is an expression of his ingratitude for all of the blessings that God has given even to unsaved men. As I said in the past, MTD sees God something like a roadside assistance mechanic, somebody who comes along when the car breaks down or something's gone along. You don't have a personal relationship with the guy from AAA. He just shows up when you call him. He fixes what's wrong, and he gets you back on the road.

And then he doesn't hear from you again, and you don't hear from him again. He's not telling you how to live. He's just there to fix things for you. As a practical matter, you don't need to know him. You don't want to know him. You don't need him. You prefer that he's not around because if he's around, there's a problem. But if something breaks down, he'll get you going again. That's the way our world thinks about God.

It's the way that much of the so-called church thinks about God. Others, using slightly different metaphors, have compared him to a cosmic genie. You rub the lamp, he pops out and says, What do you want?

I'll give you the three wishes. And you tell him what you want, and he gives you what you ask. Others have compared him to a divine butler who is ready to respond to you with a napkin draped over his arm. How can I serve you today?

I'm so delighted to be able to help you. And you tell me what you want, and I'll go get it for you. The whole common mess involved in all of this that we just need to lay out is this. Your needs dictate what God does. If you need something and you ask, God will fix it for you. But otherwise, he stays out of the equation. He's not an integral part of your life.

He's not necessary. He answers your call, he shows up, he fixes it quickly, and then backs away, moves back out of sight until you call again, and he doesn't demand anything from you in return. The spirit of prayer, beloved, that that mindset generates, and I'm quoting James Montgomery Boyce here for something I was actually preparing for Philippians for a month from now. The spirit of prayer is this, do this, do that, do it quickly, and that's that. Just do what I want, do it quickly before I get frustrated, and that's all I've got to say. And prayer simply becomes a matter of giving God a list of requests, a list of demands that you want, and then, you know, in Jesus' name, amen, and then you move on and suppose that you have engaged in true prayer.

Well, this so-called God, small g, of MTD, if I keep going, I'll get a good string of rhymes going here. What this mindset does, this way of thinking about prayer and God, what it does is it conditions people to utter ingratitude. If men think that God is distant and uninvolved in life, and he is remote and not doing anything until you ask him to, then who gets the credit when things go right? All of a sudden, man has become the master of his own destiny, and when things are going well, then he can take the credit for it rather than reflect praise and thanksgiving and gratitude back to God.

God had nothing to do with it because I did it on my own, and so it conditions people to be ungrateful and proud and selfish in a vertical way to only look to God when they want something. Well, as I alluded to in the past, none of us would want a friend like that who doesn't care about us, that's not interested in us, and the only time they show up is when they want some cash or they need you to help them move or something like that. Otherwise, they want nothing to do with you. All of us recognize that that's just a self-centered person and there's no real friendship there at all. Well, multiply that by infinity and realize the offense that this mindset must be to a holy God who is actually providentially involved in every detail of life, and you start to realize that this is not an innocent philosophy that is just somewhat misguided. This is fundamentally expressing the sinful heart of man. Moralistic, therapeutic deism is a completely false view of reality.

It has nothing to do with the way that things really are. I want to take you through some Scriptures now to help you think through these things. Remember, the idea is that God does not need to be particularly involved in your life except when you've got a problem, and the truth of the matter is so much different, so much different. Beloved, you are not independent of God, whether you're a Christian or not.

You are not independent of Him as you go through life. You derive your very existence from Him. He gave you life. He sustains your life. He knows the number of hairs on your head.

He gives you breath. The last thing that anyone should think is that they exist independently of the God of the Bible. Look at the book of Acts chapter 17.

Acts chapter 17. In Acts chapter 17, verse 24, Paul is preaching in Athens, and he tells these pagans this. Pagans. This is what we need to say to people who are infected with the philosophy of moralistic therapeutic deism. They're just pagans. I'm sorry. I don't mean that as an insult.

I mean it to be descriptive. They have no reality of God in their lives at all. They are separated from Him in spiritual darkness under His wrath and in danger of eternal judgment.

No matter how much they may be involved in so-called Christian activities if this is their mindset. What does Paul say to these pagans? He says in Acts chapter 17, verse 24, The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He served by human hands as though He needed anything, since, here it is, He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things. He gives to all people life and breath and all things.

He's not remote and distant. You do not exist independently of Him. Your existence is derivative of Him and dependent upon Him. And if God withdraws His hand, you would cease to exist.

That's reality. And it is diametrically opposed to the idea that God is not necessary for your life. Verse 26, He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, for we also are His children. What we need to be mindful of, contrary to an idea that God is just an optional accessory to life, to be taken or left alone as you will, what we need to realize is that God is the center of our existence and without Him we would not be. And all of a sudden we recognize, we recognize God at a fundamental level and even just thinking theistically and not necessarily in a uniquely Christian way just yet, we recognize that the truth is the exact opposite of what you see on the screen in front of you. The idea God does not need to be particularly involved in your life is the exact opposite of what the reality is.

God is particularly involved in your life, He has given you life and breath and everything that you have and it is your responsibility to acknowledge that and to thank Him for it. And the failure to do that is not an innocent, maladjusted philosophy, it is the height of ingratitude, rebellion, and sin not to acknowledge that. Everyone everywhere should be acknowledging God, not adopting this kind of mindset as though He were some unnecessary ruler out there far away. Scripture says that God sends the sun and the rain upon the wicked and the righteous alike, Matthew 5.

God makes the plants to grow, Psalm 104 verse 14. Indeed He directs all things to fulfill the counsel of His will, Ephesians 1-11. The God of the Bible stands against this philosophy and condemns it and the mindset of men who think this way are guilty of false religion at its worst. They are saying that God is someone other than who He is. They are saying that God does things other than what He actually does. And they are saying that their life is not in need of this God, although actually they do. And so, so this idea that you only need to call upon God when you've got a problem, you know, now we're going into the second aspect of this fourth point. You only need to call upon God when you need Him to resolve a problem which introduces us and brings us into the realm of prayer, and this is where, for the rest of the time, this is where I think this may sting a bit for all of us.

This is going to get into our, not just our kitchen, but into the laundry room and the living room and the balcony and the basement and every other aspect of our life. Beloved, as I said in the first message on this, what is it that refutes moralistic therapeutic deism? If you recall, if you recall nothing else, if you can't remember anything else going forward of these five points or anything else that I've said in this series, just remember this one thing and it will tee you up to go in the right direction when you encounter this in the future.

If you recall nothing else, remember this. Jesus Christ is always opposed to every aspect of moralistic therapeutic deism, and He is the answer to the false sugary philosophy that infects our world and infects the evangelical church. Every aspect of these five principles of moralistic therapeutic deism run counter to the person, the work, and the teaching of Christ. There is no getting around this. You cannot have this vague philosophy, this vague spiritual philosophy, as your operating view of the world and have Christ along with it because Christ has none of it.

And everything about who He is and what He said contradicts it at every key point. So how does this play out? God, you only need to call on Him when you need Him to resolve a problem. You know, and if life's going good, well, why would you pray is the idea. Why would you pray? Why would you spend your time seemingly speaking into the air if things were generally good in your life and you weren't pressed by problems?

Why would you do that? That's not, you know, according to moralistic therapeutic deism, as long as you're happy, there's no need to pray. You don't need God if you're happy. Well, what you and I as thinking Christians need to do is to come back and let this be a platform for us to go back and to remember basic things and to use this bad philosophy as that which would sharpen our thinking, sharpen our practice, and sharpen our hearts to be more engaged with the glory of God than they are as we came in here today.

That would be a worthwhile endeavor, wouldn't it? And when I tell you that Christ is always opposed to moralistic therapeutic deism, let me show you this here in inviting you to turn to the Gospel of Matthew chapter 6 at a passage that we've looked at often. Many people are interested in prayer. I would remind you that we've taught much on prayer from Matthew chapter 6.

I would encourage you to seek out those messages. But in Matthew chapter 6, verse 9, Jesus teaches us what true prayer looks like, how it is that his disciples are to pray. And over against the selfish mindset that just prays and asks God for stuff and asks him to fix things in life without regard to anything else, over and against that comes the teaching of Christ and says, here's how my disciples pray. Here's how I command you to pray as one of my disciples. Here's how a slave of mine prays. Here's how a saint in Christ Jesus prays, one who is set apart for his purposes. What does Christ say about prayer? In Matthew chapter 6, verse 9, he says, you pray in this way.

And then he lays out the content of what is to be said. He lays out the motivations for why we pray. He lays out the attitudes and the dispositions that inform the way that we pray. And what you find as you go through this in a most general overview way here is that it is just miles removed from this exclusively self-centered, help me in my problem kind of praying that is no doubt the predominant way that most people think about prayer. Christ teaches us something completely different, completely God-centered, completely humble, completely dependent, and something that is a consistent day-by-day matter of life, not just an occasional thing when life gets too bumpy for you to have the smooth ride that you desire. Look at what he says in Matthew chapter 6, verse 9.

Pray then in this way, our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Those opening three petitions, completely God-centered. We'll pause there for today, but Pastor Don Green will wrap up his message titled Moralistic Therapeutic Deism and True Prayer next time on The Truth Pulpit. Join us then as we move further into our current series titled Deception Close to Home. Meanwhile, we invite you to visit our website, There you can download free podcasts or find out how to receive free CD copies of Don's series and messages. And if you want to go even more in depth, you'll also find the link Follow Don's Pulpit. That'll take you to Don's full-length weekly sermons, not subject to the time editing we need for radio broadcasts. Also, if you're in the Cincinnati area, be sure to check out our service times for Truth Community Church. That's also on our website. And plan a visit. We'd love to welcome you. Again, that's all at I'm Bill Wright, and we'll see you next time on The Truth Pulpit as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's Word.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-04-09 15:13:50 / 2023-04-09 15:22:32 / 9

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