THE SPIRITUAL NUT JOBS VS MARTIN ZENDER.
I used to be a a spiritual nut job.
I hung out with the Gene Edwards “house church movement” for a number of years.
I studied the mystics, Watchman Nee, T. Austin Sparks, Madame Guyon, and of course Gene.
Thank God, I stumbled my way out of the mystic play land and found a loose nit band of “bible students”… not just “christians”… real students.
Martin Zender was one of those students.
A. E. Knoch was another.
The BIGGEST DIFFERENCE between my old “mystic” friends and the “bible students” is this: PRIDE and ARROGANCE vs a real, but forced humility.
Let me explain:
The mystics were incredibly full of pride. And arrogance—let’s not forget arrogance. But they hid their pride in spiritual sounding lingo.
The king of the mystics was Watchman Nee. We all loved him.
He even wrote a big, fat, three volume book called THE SPIRITUAL MAN.
If you even wanted to be “spiritual”… you gotta read THE SPIRITUAL MAN.
The problem is… I bought it, read it and to this day I have no idea what it says.
That’s because the mystics (i.e. “spiritual men”) always have their own vocabulary. And like snowflakes and cornflakes… no two flakes are alike.
Well… you can’t be too hard on T. Austin Sparks, Watchman Nee and Gene Edwards… because all those guys were using bibles there were discordant.
You see… one of A. E. Knoch’s greatest quotes is this:
“You cannot have clear thoughts until you have a clarified vocabulary.”
… love that quote.
So— back to the “spiritual men”. I got to thinking about all this when I stumbled onto the website of a dude named Frank Violia — apparently he’s the new mystic guru on the block since Gene Edwards has died.
I wasn’t long on his site before realizing he’s like other mystics, doing the pride thing, babbling on using discordant vocabulary, sounding wise and spiritual… and having a good ole time of it.
So… I bailed from his site in no time flat, waiting for the next Martin Zender video.
At least there, you won’t find some dude pretending that he’s all ‘more spiritual than thou’.
On Martin’s channel, you’ll find him talking GRACE, smoking a cig, sipping some whiskey… THINGS YOU KNOW IN YOUR HEART you’d never hear or see in the so-called “spiritual churches”.
Here’s the deal: Grace is God’s favor — showered on dudes and dudettes who absolutely DON’T DESERVE IT. And don’t even try to deserve it. Get it?
Why would you want to be “SPIRITUAL” when you can be A RECIPIENT OF GRACE?”
Gene (and I assume now, Frank) has all these folks feeling like they are more spiritual than church-goers… ‘cause they now meet in homes, not church buildings. So what. Big deal.
I was in the “church” in Isla Vista — and I know all the same games of pride and one-upmanship exist in the home church movement as exist in any click of people.
But… over the fence… in the A. E. Knoch neighborhood, where you’ll find Martin Zender, Dean Hough, Jim Coram, Michael L. Knotts, etc. … you’ll discover a “concordant teaching”… where these guys try to clarify the vocabulary so you’ll have clear thoughts.
They use the CONCORDANT LITERAL NEW TESTAMENT.
And, they use a “concordant” method of study…
And ya know what… They are so awestruck with GRACE… and they don’t even try to be “spiritual”.
If you want to be “spiritual” — delve into Watchman Nee, and Gene and the boys. And once you get spiritual… ah, you’ll be so proud of yourself. You won’t believe your accomplishments. Wow.
But if you want GRACE… You don’t have to do much at all.
Now mind you, you won’t have anything to brag on except the cross of Christ. And most folks won’t get it when you brag on the cross.
And the cross is not something you wear around your neck.
And it’s not some burden you have to bear.
It’s something that’s already DONE, for you. No stings attached.
You wanna hear “spiritual”… I’ll tell ya some’em spiritual…
Zander, Knoch and the other Concordant bible students often talk about the love between God and His son. They learned it from Paul. Paul, who mentions “THE SON OF HIS LOVE.”
I’m telling you… if you can wrap your head around this thought: That God loves Christ… and it’s really the whole story of creation… Christ, the firstborn of every creature (COL 1:16)… the blood of the cross (COL 1:20) … there’s really no room in the story for our pride, our contribution, our accomplishments, — this whole thing is about God and Christ. And the movement towards God becoming ALL IN ALL (I COR 15:20-28)
It is God’s eonian purpose. (EPH 3:11)
Gene Edwards used to have this phrase that he would tell us…
“Beware Brothers Bearing Verses.”
Imagine my surprise and delight to find the concordant bible students BEARING LOTS AND LOTS OF VERSES… concordantly.
And imagine my delight to find that I no longer had to be “spiritual”… in order to be a recipient of GRACE.