Posted in laodicean church, prophecy, regeneration, repent

Where’s the beef?

Remember this Wendy’s commercial from the early 1980s?

I used to love Clara Peller, who was a breakout hit for several years in the ad cycle. Good for her.

In the world in general there is a steep decline in civility, modesty, and behavior that would comport with what the Lord advises is pure living. With all the millions of Christians claiming that they are Christian, you would think that there would be more modesty, cleaner language, more purity, stronger families, and higher regard for Godly things. There is a terrible disconnect and it all has to do with transformation.

Philippians 3:20-21 reminds us that we have a bodily transformation to look forward to: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.”

But before we get there, 2 Corinthians 3:18 reminds us that after submitting to the Lord, our transformation of mind and spirit is an ongoing process- “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”[emphasis mine]

We would expect such an ongoing transformation. When we first believe, He sends the Holy Spirit to indwell our body. A supernatural occurrence begins to start the transformative process- the transfer of a divine being from heaven to our flesh. If you really mull through all the ramifications of this, it is mind-blowing. God sends a part of His very self to be planted inside our body which then works as an engine of transformation to His likeness.

Paul reiterated the transformative process in Romans 12:2- “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Our minds AND our bodies are being transformed by the Spirit into Jesus’ likeness.

What this looks like on the ground is a slow or a fast but a visible process where people eschew the same activities, recreation, language, and thoughts they had before. A beer-drinking, porn consuming, profanity laced man will become a gentle, moral, and upstanding husband or bachelor. Initially, the transformation is hard for the new believer but it gathers speed and becomes easier as His holiness spreads in us like a tapestry being enlarged, thread by thread. After a while, we notice that our eyes can’t stand the same television shows, books, movies, and computer activities we used to enjoy. We notice that not only has our own language cleaned up, but hearing it from others is jarring. Not only do we notice that our character is being transformed but being around unbelievers is a strain as the things they say and do hurt our gentle soul because they are an affront to God. Friends drop off, new ones are made. You begin to eagerly look forward to church, not counting it as a trial but a joy. The Spirit is transforming you.

When you repent, you renounce yourself. You allow Christ to become in you more fully every day. Now, reformation is not regeneration. Reformation is a fleshly effort in our own strength to change our ways. Due to our sin nature, permanent reformation is impossible. We will fail. If we could reform ourselves to the extent necessary to become acceptable to God, then we would not need Jesus.

Regeneration means we are being knit by a divine, supernatural process into a new creation. But it doesn’t happen spontaneously. When we are saved, we are always saved. But are we growing? The writer of Hebrews acknowledged that even after some lengthy period of time, some Christians were not growing. “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” (Hebrews 5:12). They should have been strong enough to have been teaching others at least the basics (‘first principles’) by then, but were disappointingly still ingesting milk and not strong meat!  Do a self-check. Are you still on milk of the Word and not the meat?

When I say that regeneration is not spontaneous I mean that it takes effort of the Christian to apply himself to the process. Once you are saved you are always saved, but as for growth to produce good fruit, if the new Christian never reads the bible, never or rarely attends strong worship or listens to bible preaching, never studies, haphazardly prays, or only occasionally does any deeds, they won’t grow. They may have heard the word, but they are not doers of the word- in the aforementioned things.

James 1:21-27talks about being a doer. “Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”

This is the age of the Laodicean church. There are many who are hearers only and worse, what they prefer to hear is false doctrine that tickles the ears. They are not growing, and in truth, many of them are even deceived as to their natural state. Thinking themselves saved, they are not. If you never confess your own sins, thinking that your initial confession and forgiveness covered it all forever, you will not be regenerated. James urges us James 5:16, “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed.” We all sin daily but if we confess daily then we are purified and the gratitude for this purification makes us submit even more to the Spirit’s work in us. It is a cycle.

Jesus said that there are true disciples and false disciples. (Mt 7:21-23). Many won’t make it into the kingdom, they will realize too late that their hearts deceived them. Check yourself. It is pretty simply really. “WHERE’S THE BEEF?” Do you have a fluffy exterior, big and laden with condiments, but if you peek inside, is there little to no meat? Has there been spiritual fruit borne of your deeds lately? Or not? If not, there is a problem.

Take another look at the commercial. Except let this script run through your mind:

“It certainly is a big church.”
“It’s a very big church.”
“A big, busy church.”
“It’s a very big, busy…[lifting the top to peer at what is inside]…church”
“Where’s the Gospel?”
“Some churches give you a lot less Gospel on a platter of tolerance.”
“Where’s the beef??”
Announcer extolling solid doctrine, un-watered down and meaty.
“Where’s the BEEF?? I don’t think there’s anybody back there.”

I hope you are asking yourself the important and ever-pertinent question- where’s the Gospel? Look at your church. Look at yourself. Are you on meat? Do you feel yourself being regenerated, part of an everlasting cycle of doing, hearing, growing? Or not? Ask yourself now. You don’t want to find out you belonged to a Laodicean Church when it is too late to change the outcome…


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.