eau de Cult
author Timothy Williams
Comment From The Author
Of course, I have been called a cult leader …what did you expect?
The closer one is to Jesus the greater the slander.
The more wickedness increases in the world the more often and louder is everything and everyone called a sect or in today’s language a cult.
The greater the falling away Jesus promised the more betrayal will happen in the Christian church.
Those who betray the Truth, who started following Jesus only later to quit when the cross became too real will point the finger so that their unfaithfulness to Jesus is not exposed.
Calling anything that someone does not agree with, or dislikes, a sinful gut reaction of proclaiming, “It is a cult.”
It is what sinful men and women do as Moses painfully found out when only 2 of the original congregation survived unto the Promised Land. The reader may want to do a study on how Moses lost a whole congregation in the desert because they were a wicked congregation. The slander, grumbling and unrelenting desertion towards God directed at Moses is astonishing to contemplate.
Consider that no one ever hears someone leave a church and blame themselves – it is always leadership fault and that they were “taken in.” Now that current events have unleashed more unholy talk about “cults” true disciples of Jesus can expect even worse ill-treatment.
There is often talk of bad leadership but seldom any mention that there are bad congregations and great leadership.
Indeed, even Paul found himself totally deserted from time to time.
If you are going to follow Jesus best to be prepared to be deserted and totally left alone.
Sit down, count the cost and resolve to be faithful for Jesus unto the end.
God is worth it!
Smell of Life or Death
Because of the righteousness, holiness and love for God the first church was slandered as being a sect or cult.
The same is all the more true today. From false brothers who claim to be Christians to the most pagan of worldly individuals the more closely you follow Jesus the greater will be the cry, “It’s a cult.”
Nothing drives the worldly and religious sinners wild like an undying full surrendered love for Jesus.
Indeed, listen to all the “discernment ministries” that spend their time mouthing off their corrupted opinions and you will miss the life-changing love of Jesus Christ. Pay attention to all the slander, twisted lies and soul-grounding wicked words, and you will miss the abundant life of Jesus.
After all it was this love for Jesus that drove Judas to the end of his rope.
Anyone who has spent any time with, or read any of the publications or examined any sermon will immediately be struck by the fact that it was and is impossible that such is a “cult.” Consider this post you are reading. It will take all your independence, all your thinking, all your concentration and all your attention in seeking to God to know what is the truth. Get it?
After all the one and only call is go to Jesus, surrender to God and follow His Holy Spirit. But, then that is exactly why they slander. They are convicted and know that their Christianity is a sham. Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. (Matthew 22:15)
Top Drawer Point
The only reason someone or a church is not falsely accused of being cultish is that such are not obedient enough to Jesus.
While not all cult-like-groups are of Jesus all who are of Jesus will be slandered as being cult-like.
Like Jesus, like His disciples.
Excerpt from the book, eau de Cult
Break the Jar
Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. (Mark 14:10)
It was all Judas could take, watching this woman anoint Jesus with perfume. Many an individual is driven to reveal themselves as a Judas by the presence of eau de Cult, the fragrance of love for Christ. Indeed, many who claim faith in Jesus, prove by their lives that they just cannot tolerate this fragrance. It was the final straw that broke the camel’s back and drove Judas over the edge of the spiritual cliff into the bottomless pit. He would soon hang himself, and the woman with a jar of perfume moved him faster to his doom. Those who whine that this love we have for one another appears like a cult run like Judas to the church leaders to persecute it, while others claim it comes from the devil and therefore commit the unforgivable sin. Such church leaders and chief priests provide the power to enable others to do their dirty work. And those who oppose this type of fellowship will also instruct others in how to refute its love. We must always stand guard against them and watch ourselves very carefully that we do not act like Judas—opposing those who bless Jesus with the purest of selfless love. In our eyes their doctrine may not look respectable, or they do not appear as wise as we think we are—but we had best be certain they are not true lovers of God before we speak a word of criticism.
Let me warn the reader again, that you will be shocked at what comes leaping out of a man when you begin to anoint Jesus with eau de Cult. Just as the Apostles thought that Judas loved Jesus, until it was too late, so too you will be amazed at who rejects this fragrance. Indeed, from the chief priest to the Apostles4 themselves, they remained jeal- ous of the love others had for Jesus. Because of their guilty consciences, the disciples “rebuked her harshly.” They, like us, justify our lukewarm expressions of love to Jesus with spiritual sounding words like being concerned for the “poor.” A church anointed with eau de Cult does not appear reasonable in its expressions of love for Jesus. Until you have broken the jar of self and poured it out on Jesus you cannot speak of wearing eau de Cult or being fully in love with Him.
If this reaction occurred when one woman anointed Jesus with this perfume, you can imag- ine the reaction, gossip, and slander if a whole church acted this way. If the best of Jesus’ followers “indignantly” talked to one another about this, what will those in the community or other lukewarm churches do? Jesus had to personally step in and tell them, “Leave her alone.” Many oppose eau de Cult not because it is wrong, but because it shames their lack of love for Jesus. The church should, rather than persecute, break self with all of its reserve and anoint Jesus with love.
While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Mark 14:3–9)
As this woman broke the jar, it filled the whole room with its fragrance. It was a sermon without words and its smell penetrated to the soul. Many today take upon their lips the name of Jesus, but few smell of this perfume of love. Whenever I listen to men, women, pastors, and leaders speak of Jesus, I recall few who speak his name as “perfume poured out.”
Pleasing is the fragrance of your perfumes; your name is like perfume poured out. No wonder the maidens love you! (Song of Songs 1:3)
This woman anointed Jesus on the way to the cross. And as we pick up our daily cross to follow Jesus, there we are also privileged to anoint Jesus again and again with the fragrance of our sacrifice of love.
It was a simple act, what this woman did. She did not work at a grand ministry, fulfill a special calling, or seek a blessing from Jesus. She sought nothing for herself. Without a word or any fanfare, she broke a jar of perfume and anointed Jesus. It was an act of selfless love, poured out to the one she loved. He was not first on her priority list, but her only love. It was the pure gospel because it was pure love poured out. No wonder Jesus said that “wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will be also told, in memory of her.” Jesus died that we might fall in love with Him, not that we might grab blessings. Those who forsake all, give all, letting self be broken—or rather, break self for God by the power of the Holy Spirit—are filled with the good news. Those who give everything like this woman, breaking open all for Jesus, will smell of Jesus. This anointing is the same thing He did for us. He gave up all of self for our sakes and so we are like Him, smelling of heaven. This is why He is not ashamed to call us brothers.
Church is a place to prepare for heaven and if your church does not have an eau de Cult love how can you honestly declare that it loves as heaven loves? Every church, every Christian, has a choice every day—to allow the cross to break self or to hang onto self. A man either hangs on the cross or he hangs onto himself. Pray and long for a church where everyone hangs on the cross with Jesus. For there you will experience a church that smells of the resurrected life. Be willing to travel, test, and search out this buried treasure—to throw in your jar with others who fellowship and anoint Jesus this way. People whose very lives smell of a love for Jesus before they speak a single word. Be ready at an instant to obey and join a church like this, for there you will discover true abundant life. But you must give up all—all pride, money, time, talent, doctrines, traditions, way of doing things, desires, goals, blessings—all of self—all. And once dead to self, you will be filled with the love of heaven that loves God with all and able to love others in Spirit and Truth.
This is the essence of eau de Cult.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34–35)
All men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another,” Jesus told his disciples. Love from heaven in the church is the one test by which all doctrines and ministry work should be measured. But what does the love of Jesus look like in a church? It certainly cannot look like the love the world shows, for that is merely sin expressed in kindness. It must be a love so radical that the world persecutes it and the remnant of God are drawn to it. This special love, that comes from the Holy Spirit, is seldom seen in the church today. Love from a crucified life has been replaced with socializing and what men call “logical” doctrine. Lukewarmness, because it is warm and comfortable, is considered safe and normal in Jesus. Of course, lukewarm churches are the ones that receive all the rewards from Satan and worldly Christians. They receive all the money, help, and support. Satan will not get in the way of such churches. In fact, he will get out of the way so that it appears God answers their prayers.
Waves of events and new movements in the church have replaced the true love of Jesus. The church has refused the efforts of Jesus to nail them down on the cross resulting in a whirlwind of activity in the church with no depth of serious love. Because of this spiritual climate, any love for Jesus, hotter than lukewarm, is regarded as evil and cultic. But, as we shall see, any church that is not falsely accused of being a cult has lost its first love.
The essence of a Cult, or as they say in France, eau de Cult,2 came to mind one day as I walked to the Christian bookstore run by our church as a service to the community. At the bookstore we seek to stock the old writings of saints who understood and lived the offensive message of the cross. On this walk was born the idea of putting a bottle of fragrance in the store that would remind individuals we need to smell like Jesus. Soon we had bottles of eau de Cult sitting on the shelves.
Actually, the story goes back almost twenty years prior when I preached a sermon entitled Holy Perfume. Over my many years of pastoring, people have frequently accused me of being a “cult leader.” At my first preaching job it didn’t take long before I was labeled as such. Jim Jones,3 who had led his group down to the jungles of South America and ended up with everyone drinking poisoned “Kool-Aid”4 remained fresh on everyone’s mind. I hadn’t preached three months when one of the most supportive ladies in the church came up behind me and pushed me saying, “Is your name Jim, . . . Jim Jones?” This was back in 1978 and I was very green when it came to preaching. My crime? Preaching the message of the cross to a very comfortable church. Their charges were many and varied, and grew in emotion and length until I was fired. Accusations such as my sermons were too good for a young preacher so I must get them from someone else, or trying to alienate the children from their parents, were thrown at my wife and I. We had made the “mistake” of having the children over to our trailer one evening to talk about the Lord. At this meeting we served Kool-Aid! One can easily see that such innocent events turn into false accusations when people must listen to what they do not want to hear. After all, I had told them we should love our Baptist neighbors and that some of these people might even be saved! This and many other aspects of the gospel rattled their dead spiritual lives and rather than repent, they became hostile.
I didn’t know it then, but I later discovered by God’s grace that there is a “fragrance” in Christ that all true disciples receive by the Holy Spirit. This fragrance follows us everywhere the Holy Spirit sends us to preach and God has sought to give this scent to every church I have pastored with my helpmate and beloved wife, Carla. To some the fragrance smells like death. To others it is life. If it smells of death it means you are on your way to hell, but if it smells like life then eternal hope will produce eternal joy. Many others, however, are not sure what the “fragrance” is. They just know it “smells” unusual.
To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? (2 Corinthians 2:16)
This fragrance shows itself long before we open our mouths or even arrive in someone’s life. It is a fragrance that causes a strong spiritual reaction. Many times someone will say, “I don’t like them,” before we even have a chance to say or do anything in the Lord. Or others will say something like, “There is something different about them.” But they have no evidence to support either statement. Many times, after people have talked with us, their friends or relatives comment, “I have never seen him open up to anyone so much and so quickly as he did to you.”
Because people sense something different in our lives, they feel quite safe to speak from the heart. Anyone willing to wear this perfume at all times, even when others sense death, the closest of fellowship with Jesus will be theirs. Take for example, Paul. He smelled strongly of Jesus. So strong was the scent that “people everywhere” were “talking against” him. Indeed, they referred to Paul’s church as a “sect” or, in our modern day language, a cult. Paul definitely wore eau de Cult!
They replied, “We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of the brothers who have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you. But we want to hear what your views are, for we know that people everywhere are talking against this sect.” They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe. (Acts 28:21–24)
Because none of the brothers “reported or said anything bad” about Paul they couldn’t figure out why so many spoke with such malice about him. Again we see the battle between those who interpret the smell as death and those who smell life.
They met with Paul to discuss this matter. With great care and fine logic Paul explained to them about Jesus, Moses, and the Prophets. In spite of Paul’s efforts to present the gospel, the Bible tells us that some of those who heard simply “would not believe.” No doubt one reason they refused to believe was that they too would have had to wear eau de Cult. How many in Paul’s time, and still today, feel ashamed of the words of Christ and refuse to wear the fragrance.
Of course, a few found it to be the fragrance of life and were convinced by the Holy Spirit that Paul spoke the Truth. In marching forward with the cross in our life the fragrance of the gospel spreads everywhere. As we become losers for Jesus,7 we march triumphantly as the Holy Spirit leads and God’s fragrance permeates everything.
But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. (2 Corinthians 2:14)
This book will seem like either death or life to you. You might feel confused and even a little frightened as to how to live everything we have written here. This is normal. It is not a scent most people are accustomed to and nothing on earth smells like it. When we face something unfamiliar we often become frightened. Therefore many declare they get a “bad feeling” when they first come into contact with this love. But don’t let your fear immediately label this as legalistic or something to avoid. Rich joy, that will start here on earth and never end throughout all of eternity, will be yours if you willingly crucify self.
The amount and depth of love that God has worked in our lives is amazing. But more astounding is that He worked this love in spite of severe opposition.8 All the stories of this persecution would require another book and are not really worth repeating right now.9 It is the same old tired stories of men who persecute the love of God. The methods and reasons for this persecution remain the same and will do so until Jesus returns. Satan attacks both outside and inside the church where God works this kind of love. Outwardly he brings opposition from many sources in various ways from many directions. Inwardly
Satan seeks to weaken us with sin, using bitter roots as his main tactic. Read through the Old Testament and note what happened as Moses led the people out of Egypt. The desert, or the cross from our viewpoint, became a real testing ground to see who had true faith in God. Therefore the book of Hebrews warns us to watch out for “bitter roots” which can quickly destroy a church. Everyone who attends a church where the cross remains powerful will feel tempted to have a bitter root from time to time. It is a terrible sin that Carla and I can testify ruins the love in a church.
If a congregation desires to press on to rich love from Jesus they must learn to “rejoice always.” To rejoice even when pride, selfishness, hidden motives, and sins are revealed and crucified. If this ground work is not clearly understood by all, then church leaders will find it impossible to move the Body forward as the Spirit leads.
Satan loves to use evil suspicions. When he roars loudly enough, he can cause many to freeze in fear. Satan also whispers through men and shoots flaming arrows at our hearts to frighten us. He declares it will all end like a “cult.” And who can defend themselves against such an accusation of the future? First, the accuser frames the story to fit a mold and then declares that the conclusion will end in the way the story demands. Plus, plenty of failures occur that the Evil One and others can point to that will prove their point. So please pay careful attention to what you read here. If you attempt to gain this love, every point and more will be needed to survive the trials ahead.
Indeed, no man can escape the trap of evil suspicions unless he has true faith in God. Faith in a God who can work the same love that the first church had, into our hearts today. But you will have to be willing to wear a fragrance that many will think smells like death. Those who oppose the message of the cross will somehow know it is death, even when they cannot prove it. They will be convinced you secretly sleep with everyone in the church. They will think you desire to destroy their family, and only want everyone’s money.
If there is never any evidence to support this “knowledge,” how can they be so sure? Simple. Such accusers measure things by their own hearts, and we know the heart is deceitful above “all things.” Inside, they know that if they were in our situation they would fall into such sinful acts. Such people cannot imagine a truly pure heart because their hearts
burn with lust and sin. They judge themselves when they condemn those who wear the fragrance of Christ, because they refuse to repent of their own sins. Those without the true cross in their life cannot understand that there really is a power that overcomes sins in a person’s life. Simply stated, they are not pure enough by the grace of God to understand the possibility of such purity. A man who has not honestly tasted the sufferings of the cross16 that brings purity, cannot for a moment believe it is possible. It would be easier to explain light to a blind man than to convince such a person that he is wrong in his false accusations and twisting of facts.
As Titus 1:15 declares, “To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.”
Over the years others have repeated the refrain that I am a cult leader and our church is headed toward that kind of corruption. Twenty years ago men declared this evil suspicion over and over. As a result, many people failed to consider joining our church as God called them. Those who made these accusations back in 1979, however, still wait for this “cult” to fall into the corruption they so confidently predicted. Like those who vowed not to eat or drink until Paul died, those who started this rumor decades ago still wait for our “cult” to perish in sin.
However, fresh new voices always shoot the arrows of evil suspicions18 in order to build up their self-righteousness. The following quote comes from an article published in the fall of 2002, even as we wrote this book. Notice the wickedness of accusation by association and the complete lack of any evidence. They “know” that their accusations are true and only a matter of time will prove them right, therefore they feel justified in making the accusation now. It is slander of the worst kind. Note also the false love. They pretend to “warn” rather than “accuse” but all the while they imply that bad fruit must be present, even though they cannot actually point to any.
The longer range consequences of such aberrational theology become serious. In some settings (particularly where communal living is the norm, which is not the case in Mr. William’s group) women will look to the leader as their spiritual covering instead of to their husband, and children will look to the leader instead of to their father. Strained marriages and dysfunctional
families tend to become a longer-term result. It is also not uncommon for a financial exploitation to begin to surface at some point, and neither is it uncommon for someone holding this kind of sway to engage in immorality further down the line. We wish to emphasize however, that we have no evidence that Mr. Williams has ever perpetrated such treachery, we simply refer to a pattern we have witnessed time and time again among groups that followed a similar path. We issue a warning not an accusation. Aberrational groups that deviate from the Bible moreover, wind up indicting themselves.
We cannot say how many of these trends are already underway within this group. But while we do not know with any certainty how far this particular group has gone down this particular road, we are quite confident to say that this is the road that they certainly appear to be traveling on.
The article is, of course, much longer. After doing a thorough job of misrepresentation and insinuation, the writers conclude that they have “no evidence” to support such claims and that they “cannot say” how many of these things happen in our church. One can only wonder how many “nots” a man can have in his life and still be labeled guilty. Indeed, this discernment ministry mentioned communal living only to weave a lie with the truth in order to make their entire accusation appear true. They still remain, however, “quite confident” that it is the road we are—or, at least, “appear to be”—heading down. Such unfounded statements, of course, result from total sin and come from wicked hearts.
Indeed, if they lived the gospel, the message of the cross, they would understand all of this. If they really preached a true Jesus and not the current wide gate Jesus so often declared, all of this would become abundantly clear. Such people would do well to repent of their errors in doctrine and ask God to fill them with the love of heaven that does “not think evil of each other.” Self-righteousness results in “evil suspicions,” “quarrels,” and fear rather than a building up in the Truth.
If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions . . . (1 Timothy 6:3–4)
The only thing that remains is for people to bring forth false witnesses as they did with Jesus—which I fully expect to happen some day.24 Therefore do not become discouraged because some individuals smell death rather than life and fiercely oppose you because of their own sins. In fact, just let it prepare you for the time when “all” men will hate you. Rejoice and move forward in love, and soon you shall enter through the gates of heaven and fellowship with others who have worn eau de Cult.
Even now God will give the deepest of love and fellowship with those who desire all of Jesus and His cross. You will discover a love more important than ministry.26 A love where people put on no false pretenses and individuals live in fear of the Lord. Where members feel safe in the church because God keeps everything pure.28 No one is a number on an attendance chart and no one in leadership takes advantage of the flock. Where God really remains the only person sought out and obeyed. For example, if any member of Sound Doctrine should stumble into sin and leave the church, they would have the means to return to the Lord even without necessarily returning to our church. For they have been taught the message and have the tools that allow them to return to a relationship with God.
Many who do leave feel tormented because this love cannot be found in the world or alone in their hearts. Only in the context of fellowship is love fully known. Love, the fruit that Jesus said proves someone is of God, is present in a church where they truly carry the cross. A love and joy so overflowing with no “bounds” that members exclaim with Paul that they would “live or die” with these brothers and sisters. When a man turns his back on this kind of love he feels tormented and rails against the church to cover up his guilty conscience.
I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds. (2 Corinthians 7:3–4)
Although such love is honestly amazing, it is not enough for most individuals. To have eau de Cult you must have the cross. This love of Christ in a church requires crucifixion of self by the Holy Spirit, and most remain unwilling to pay the price.
Everyone is so busy being something, and being promised they will be something in the church, that Jesus has no time to form a church. Therefore you might find one person in a church known for being the slave of everyone,30 but seldom a whole church. The heart of the gospel is missing.
The following quote comes from a letter by someone unwilling to carry her cross and give all to Jesus. This person was an average church goer who had experienced much “fellowship” in other churches, but she wept in the midst of us and said that she had never experienced such love before. Later, as she began to reject the requirements of the cross, she wrote a letter stating that she was still testing the spirits to see if we were from God. As this person wrote tired old questions, doubts, and dodges from sacrifice, she made the following statement.
And the fellowship was what I thought it was! I enjoyed myself so much and felt so welcomed and loved by everyone there. I can see how it would be hard for anyone to walk away from that.
When I pointed out that love was the test that proved whether or not a church remained in Jesus and plainly should answer her doubts, we were then slanderously accused of being full of hate. What a turnaround! If you gain a love from heaven by way of the cross you will see this kind of thing time and time again. Though this person had wept at what she found, she was unwilling to pay the price to have it. To wear eau de Cult requires the surrender of all.
As 2 Corinthians 2:16 tells us, no man is “equal to such a task.” No man is up to the task of creating this fragrance himself. No man is equal to the calling that permits God to bless us
with this fragrance. It cannot be manufactured by programs, outlines, or fancy preaching. It does not come with revival meetings or prayer meetings. It is the Lord’s work that no man can control or influence. A person either has the scent, or he doesn’t. Many churches and Christians seek to smell like this with their Bible reading, projects, and goals to love one another, but only live a cheap imitation. It is the difference between fellowship in the Light that the Holy Spirit shines in a church and one that merely socializes by the light of man.34 Where men try to mock this fragrance you will always find something missing. Because of the hypocrisy, pride, cliques, gossip, rules and pleasure seeking, you can sense they lack the cross. For no matter what good points a church may have, leaving a bunch of “dead flies” floating in the perfume, ruins it. To obtain eau de Cult from the Lord, each person and church needs to make sure that no dead flies float in the batch. They must be ready to repent and give up everything again and again—for a “little folly outweighs” much good.
As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor. (Ecclesiastes 10:1)
What is eau de Cult? Simply the fragrance of love that flows from the throne of heaven. A love that will only happen if we willingly pick up a cross as Jesus did.35 In order to get this kind of love we must accept the offensive message of the cross.36 What is the offensive message of the cross? Rejoicing and obeying a message from the Holy Spirit that we do not want to hear.37 This book is not about that message, but about the fruit of that message. Other books previously listed in the front expound on that topic. The fruit of this message is love. A love that comes from the Holy Spirit, yet seldom seen in churches today. In fact, it is difficult to find a true Holy Spirit inspired hospitality in the church today, let alone a love where individuals lay down their lives for each other. If you long for your church to be filled with a heavenly love, then the fragrance of eau de Cult is for you.
The fragrance of eau de Cult comes from the love of Jesus in each individual’s heart. Jesus said that such fruit would tell others we belong to Him.
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:35)
How then shall I describe this love? How does one describe a fragrance to someone who has never smelled flowers or incense? Or how do we describe a fragrance that has never been produced by any man on earth? There simply is no reference point when it comes to God’s love. For as the heavens are higher than us, so is God’s love different from ours. People will often ask us to tell them how this love manifests itself. We find it difficult to answer such questions because such a fragrance penetrates all we do, but does not always display itself in grandiose gestures.
This love is like the power manifested on the night Jesus was born in a simple manger. That birth would shatter hell but only a few shepherds experienced its glory. So too the love God works in the church is like a weak baby in a manger. It has the power to cause hell to persecute it and heaven to rejoice over it. In short, you will find nothing like it on earth. It comes from heaven and is completely different in every way, both in heart and action. This short book will feebly attempt to share a love that moves individuals who visit us to tears.
This book is really a prayer. Only the answer to prayer can open someone’s eyes to the fact that the love of God lived out in this world will look like a cult to the world or the worldly. As Paul prayed, “that out of his glorious riches” God would make the width, depth, and height of the love of Christ known to the church. We hope that through this book, a few will desire this true love.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16–19)
The fragrance of love in the first church surpassed knowledge, and that should be the case in our churches today. No outline, no study guide, and no book, including this one, can communicate the “fullness of God” and His love in the church. Only a God who acts with “power,” if He can find surrendered saints, can work heavenly love in a church. This fullness of God filling a church causes the religious to dislike and even persecute those God anoints with eau de Cult.