Home > Christianity, Church, Spiritual Growth > The Question That Changed My Life, by David Ryser

The Question That Changed My Life, by David Ryser

June 12, 2009

I just came across this on a bulletin board. I’m always skeptical of these “changed my life” things, but this one hits the spot. We have a lot to repent of.

I believe David Ryser’s message here here points to the Missional-Incarnational-Relational model of the church that I believe is coming. See The Church Needs an MRI! for further thoughts on how coming sociopolitical trends will affect ecclesiology.

I don’t hold the copyright on this, and do not intend on infringing on anyone’s rights.  If posting this here is not acceptable, please contact me and I will immediately take it down. Otherwise, thanks to Dr. Ryser for your contribution to the Kingdom.-Paul


A number of years ago, I had the privilege of teaching at a school of ministry. My students were hungry for God, and I was constantly searching for ways to challenge them to fall more in love with Jesus and to become voices for revival in the Church. I came across a quote attributed most often to Rev. Sam Pascoe. It is a short version of the history of Christianity, and it goes like this:

Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise.

Some of the students were only 18 or 19 years old–barely out of diapers–and I wanted them to understand and appreciate the import of the last line, so I clarified it by adding, “An enterprise. That’s a business.” After a few moments Martha, the youngest student in the class, raised her hand. I could not imagine what her question might be. I thought the little vignette was self-explanatory, and that I had performed it brilliantly. Nevertheless, I acknowledged Martha’s raised hand, “Yes, Martha.” She asked such a simple question, “A business? But isn’t it supposed to be a body?” I could not envision where this line of questioning was going, and the only response I could think of was, “Yes.” She continued, “But when a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?”

The room went dead silent. For several seconds no one moved or spoke. We were stunned, afraid to make a sound because the presence of God had flooded into the room, and we knew we were on holy ground. All I could think in those sacred moments was, “Wow, I wish I’d thought of that.” I didn’t dare express that thought aloud. God had taken over the class.

Martha’s question changed my life. For six months, I thought about her question at least once every day. “When a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?” There is only one answer to her question. The answer is “Yes.” The American Church, tragically, is heavily populated by people who do not love God. How can we love Him? We don’t even know Him; and I mean really know Him.

… I stand by my statement that most American Christians do not know God–much less love Him. The root of this condition originates in how we came to God. Most of us came to Him because of what we were told He would do for us. We were promised that He would bless us in life and take us to heaven after death. We married Him for His money, and we don’t care if He lives or dies as long as we can get His stuff. We have made the Kingdom of God into a business, merchandising His anointing. This should not be. We are commanded to love God, and are called to be the Bride of Christ–that’s pretty intimate stuff. We are supposed to be His lovers. How can we love someone we don’t even know? And even if we do know someone, is that a guarantee that we truly love them? Are we lovers or prostitutes?

I was pondering Martha’s question again one day, and considered the question, “What’s the difference between a lover and a prostitute?” I realized that both do many of the same things, but a lover does what she does because she loves. A prostitute pretends to love, but only as long as you pay. Then I asked the question, “What would happen if God stopped paying me?”

For the next several months, I allowed God to search me to uncover my motives for loving and serving Him. Was I really a true lover of God? What would happen if He stopped blessing me? What if He never did another thing for me? Would I still love Him? Please understand, I believe in the promises and blessings of God. The issue here is not whether God blesses His children; the issue is the condition of my heart. Why do I serve Him? Are His blessings in my life the gifts of a loving Father, or are they a wage that I have earned or a bribe/payment to love Him? Do I love God without any conditions? It took several months to work through these questions. Even now I wonder if my desire to love God is always matched by my attitude and behavior. I still catch myself being disappointed with God and angry that He has not met some perceived need in my life. I suspect this is something which is never fully resolved, but I want more than anything else to be a true lover of God.

So what is it going to be? Which are we, lover or prostitute? There are no prostitutes in heaven, or in the Kingdom of God for that matter, but there are plenty of former prostitutes in both places. Take it from a recovering prostitute when I say there is no substitute for unconditional, intimate relationship with God. And I mean there is no palatable substitute available to us (take another look at Matthew 7:21-23 sometime). We must choose.

-Dr. David Ryser.
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  1. Paul B.
    June 12, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Folks, check out this related video by Andrew Strom, about the poor of the world experiencing revival, while the rich West languishes in spiritual poverty. Down to earth and powerful. GB.


    • Nina
      November 13, 2009 at 3:33 pm

      Deur David Ryser

      I found your artickle in the newspaper today the 13/11/2009 and was really interrested what she sayed and what you sayed about loving God or are we like prostitutes? Well like you sayed love is when you love someone with your heart and prostitution is were you pretend on loving someone; which is right.

      We life in world that has its own saying of how things should be and to be done. Which for me is weary wrong, but we can talk as match as we want it is still their choice to believe it or throw it away. The question that that you rather should ask is ouer FOUNDATION build on rock or on sand.
      This week God has just came an spoke to me on his foudations that we should have in him in order to see his love for us so that we would stop wondering about it if he loves us or not. The foundations include: Faith, hope,peace,love and grace.

      Sometimes ouer religions forces us to be vary strike like: i must do this and must not do this ather wise God will be angry with me or unpleased with me or we want to sit and figure everthing out like how can i love God more or how can i do more good. We are not in Religion with God we are in Realationship with him. If we try to do everthing the law says we will never be rightious a nove we will always fell short of somthing or not feeling Good a nove.

      That is way God has send his son to pay for all ouer sins on the Gross and he payed it in Full. So we are free from sin. If we understand his grace for us what he has done for us then we wouldnt sin no more.

      Thats way Faith is the key to grace !!!! If you believe you will reseave!!!
      I hope this brings new meaning to you as it did for me!!!!!
      greatings nina

      • November 13, 2009 at 4:04 pm

        Hi Nina,

        I’m not David Ryser, I just found his piece on a bulletin board, but I really agree with you. We need to go beyond laws and ritual, into an intimate trust relationship. The Lord has so much for us, but it’s up to us to press in and claim it. If we will just continue to “show up”, expecting Him to do what we cannot, He will satisfy our needs.

  2. August 18, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    I wanted to add that so much that happens in the Church today is built on tradition and not on the Bible.
    Passing the offering plate is one of the most humiliating experience for believers if they have no money. It sets them up for judgement. How is one to not know what is in their right hand of giving, when they require a tax receipt? Why are the churches linked up with the Internal Revenue? Is it not selling themselves to the government, just so they can claim a tax free exemption?

    • August 18, 2009 at 2:23 pm

      I agree, Diana. The whole money thing is way overstressed, and wrongly motivated and executed. We have a ways to go before the organic church arises. I believe it’s going to happen, though, and that when it does it won’t be because the IRS gave us permission. I think this revival will be for real, and will have a cost to our carnality.

  3. Diana Milligan
    September 2, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    I totally agree with you. I think very soon, because of the way things are going in the government and the frightening prospects of the very near future, this will be a time the Church will be getting purified. Seems human beings have to suffer before they reach out to their God.

    • September 2, 2009 at 4:35 pm

      Yes, we’re seeing a dramatic change in the government and culture, and the foundations upon which we rested and prospered for so long, more than merely being eroded, are being cast off. Change is coming, indeed. Suffering is an important part of the mix, and I think we’re going to experience some. A critical time, and we need to be faithful.


  4. wisdomatwork
    September 11, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Thanks for sharing this. Months later and it is still be circulated and being used by God in a powerful way. I just got it today in Jamaica from a member of my church family. The message for me is timely and the challenge from the Holy Spirit is ongoing…”Will I seek the Giver…or his gift?”

    • September 11, 2009 at 9:30 pm

      You’re welcome. I came across it on a forum, and immediately it struck me deeply. I thought it was something the church needed to hear. And it has indeed been much read. God bless David Ryser.


  5. September 22, 2009 at 11:06 am

    This is such a clarion word for our day. It is true. And I want to be a part of the remnant of people who will ask the hard, honest questions and get people thinking! Thank you so much for this blog. I am going to share it with my network…

    • September 22, 2009 at 9:05 pm

      Amen. It is a word for today, to help take the church into the next phase, and I’m glad it’s getting wide circulation.

      Be blessed,

  6. Heather Smith
    October 3, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    I’ve been thinking a lot about what I see as an over emphasis on money in a church I started attending a couple of months ago. Yes, we need a church building but, hey! You are greeted with an evelope at the door then envelopes are made available just before offering time when the over-sized ice cream buckets are passed. One sunday I had to leave early and I was stopped by an usher and asked to stay until after the offering. I told her I had left my envelpe with my friend. This is a “100% tithing church”, the pastoer has asked each person/family to give $8,000 towards the church building; and one sunday we were told that we shouldn’t equate tithe with offering, which is what you give after you have given your tithe. I’m still considering whether I should become a (tithing) member or find a more comfortable environment. And I wonder what God is thinking about my contemplations. Any scriptural guidance would be welcome.

    • October 3, 2009 at 10:04 pm


      A building program was the final straw that imploded the first church I attended. The church was on fire, but came under attack and made mistakes. Finally, the pressure to raise funds pushed the elders’ perspectives and values over the edge, until they were beating the sheep. Over 1/3 of the church left in about a year’s time. Many were hurt, and some elders fell really hard.

      Years later I was in another church where tithing and money were heavily stressed, and that pastor ended up abusing the sheep as well. That church also fell apart.

      My feeling is that the Law of Christ, which is love, should be our highest principle, and everything should be done accordingly. No compulsion. No manipulative shaming. Trust God enough that if a work is of him, people will give voluntarily, from the heart, by His leading.

      Furthermore, just as Colossians 2 tells us not to be obliged to keep the Sabbath, Hebrews teaches our new covenant goes beyond types and shadows, and Gal 5.1 exhorts us to seize and hold fast our freedom in Christ, I believe we are no longer compelled to keep the tithe. Please do a study on the this. There were many tithes under Moses, not merely the flagship 10%. Some were used to run the nation. Some were merely offered up ceremonially and then consumed *by the offerer*. If people were poor they were allowed less costly sacrifices. And the tithe was a *return* to God for the bounty he had *already* given; it was not a proactive offering done in faith.

      Yes, before Moses, Abraham did give Melchizadek 10%, but we are under a better covenant- really, the perfect covenant that will not be superseded. Now we’re to give God 100%, and keep what He returns to us. What I see in the NT is free giving from the heart, without law or compulsion.

      I know a lot of people give the tithe with a sincere heart. I honor that because the motivation is pure. I also think the tithe is good as a principle. But we are NOT under the law for righteousness (Rom 10.4), and so we should feel no condemnation regarding the tithe, else something is wrong with the way it is being presented.

      There are a cacophony of voices on this issue. I just did a search on ‘tithe today’ and found one site that looks pretty good: http://www.letusreason.org/Biblexp30.htm

      I hope you find light and peace on this issue!


  7. October 13, 2009 at 2:14 pm

    Greetings! This essay was passed on in its near-entirety in an e-mail to me today. I did a search and found this blog page; and I also found other pages. These prompt a few comments on my part.

    First, you probably would be shocked to see how Sam Pescoe’s quote and this essay has been used by opponents of Christianity. Put in the opening phrase of the quote and see what the Web search gives you. No one can stop others from using others’ honest admissions of problems against them, but the fact that people do should make those who make and read such admissions think. And if people were really honest about Christianity in its own ranks (and some are, they’re just scared to act on the implications), they’d realize that on many, many levels, “mainstream Christianity” is not at all the religion that Jesus founded. People are trying to express love to Him in ways He never intended. That’s the core problem, and it’s led to what Sam Pescoe talked about and much more.

    Second – and here comes an example of what I’ve just said – tithing existed before the Old Covenant (yes, thanks to Melchizedek) and therefore doesn’t stand or fall with the Old Covenant (or the New for that matter). Moreover, one can prove that it’s still very much in force within the New Covenant. We who realize that are consistently blessed, physically and spiritually, if we’re doing what else God expects of us (including being generous to those in need)! It’s practical, it works, and it’s one of the best tools to use against basing one’s life on money if one understands what tithing is for. It’s not to enrich you, it’s lovingly giving the LORD what is His due. He owns everything. He taxes us 10% and then makes the 90% go farther than it ever would otherwise. So what’s the problem? Why try to reason one’s way out of a blessing God wants to give you?

    It is time to stop using the New Covenant as an excuse to do away with God’s Spiritual Law on any level whatever. Jesus said you should tithe, but you should also do the weightier matters of the Law, justice, mercy and faith. He didn’t say drop either. He said to teach all nations what He taught His disciples, and this is one thing He taught clearly in their presence. In Hebrews, Paul said the New Covenant is based on better promises, but he also indicated (citing Jeremiah) that the Law doesn’t change – only the writing material on which it is placed (one’s heart). Plus, he shows that the “law” regarding the priesthood was transferred (not eliminated) to Christ’s priesthood – and in context, that includes the commandment concerning tithing. I could go on…

    Why does most of the professing Christian world, in all countries rich and poor, find these simple concepts so difficult to understand? Is it that one way or another, most of professing Christianity really has prostituted itself – not just to money, but to political entities and to idolatrous concepts about God, which way of acting is what spiritual prostitution is really called most often in the Bible? I guarantee, I wouldn’t have been silent in the situation described above – because I already knew the answer to the question posed by Martha, and the one I just posed, at 17. But that is because I had teachers since my youth who knew the answers and gave them to the world freely, and because God made me willing and able to listen despite my natural stubbornness. May He do so soon to the whole world!

    • October 13, 2009 at 3:09 pm

      Hi John,

      Thanks for commenting. Yes, criticisms are going to be used both by those who love and hate the church. I think that’s ok; there was a time when I myself hated the church, but God had other plans for me. We are under obligation to air out our laundry when necessary, and this quote, and Ryser’s piece after it, has done a lot of good.

      As for tithing, we disagree. Abraham tithed once that we know of. There are other mentions of giving ten percent, even before the coming of the law, and I think 10% is a good basic principle if one wants one. But I also think that law gets in the way of the life of grace, which frankly demands everything. Jesus did instruct the Jews to tithe, but that was the Jews. I believe the New Covenant supersedes that. Check out that site I referenced above, if you’re interested in a good exposition.

      I further think that this is an area where each one of us must be convinced in our own hearts and give everyone else room to be convinced of their own positions. Bitter argument and rancor, which I’ve seen far too often, should have no place in the debate. It’s clear to me that you’re sincere and respectful in your belief, though it’s different from mine, and I welcome that.

      Be blessed,

  8. October 13, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Too many pastors have the old priesthood concept of their calling. No mo. Each individual Believer has a personal and individual relation with the Lord Jesus; He is our High Priest forever.

    They obviously cease to preach individual value for fear they will each fade away. Very sad. The rending of the veil by GOD when Jesus died ended the need for a priest.

    Today, we need called-out ministers that know who they are and who each one in the congregation really is… Matthew 27:51 Mark 15:38 Luke 23:45 KJV selah

  9. Mount Zion
    April 2, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    What people did GOD send Jesus to? Read Matthew 15:24 until you get it. Now read Matthew 16:26-28, Ch.24:34.
    Where do you find US and WE mentioned in the Bible? The Bible was written TO and FOR that people it apeals to..

  10. April 29, 2011 at 3:12 am

    Hi All you dear readers i thought to just share my thoughts on the state of the Preachers (I am a preacher) and how this has affected the people (The Church)

    The Fallacy of the New Thing
    Stan Almendro

    Acts 17 verse 21:

    For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent all their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear a new thing.

    The mystic of the mind and inner being of God’s creation has got to be the most unique thing in the world. By nature we want to “Find Out” or explore and without this unique characteristic the world would be a poorer place. This must never change as our existence has this as the core ingredient of life.
    From the cradle to the grave our lives grow, in every aspect and sphere, by what we learn and discover. Those who have gone before us and all with us play a vital and exciting part in our growth as people.
    New discoveries are the order of the day and the never ending quest, in mankind, to unearth, reveal and unravel the mysteries of the unknown is a journey equal to the travel of “Unknown Space”. Our vehicle may not be a spaceship but our destination is the deep hole of mysteries yet to be discovered.

    With the above foremost in our minds I want to emphatically state that I appreciate and accept this important and real issue of life.

    This article is meant to transport us into the church and the yet undiscovered greatness of God.

    Firstly God is never and must never be a discovery to be held as a trophy. It is by nature of our relationship with him that we must find out and live in His Divine presence, provision and protection.

    If we live knowing that “Our Times are in His hands” Out lives begin to focus on Him and not the power, riches or dynamics of the Spiritual World. We sometimes too rashly declare we want to be like Him. Let us remember this craving was the downfall of Lucifer.

    The Church has lost the focus which I believe is not only the commission of Christ but also the Burning Desire of the Heart of God. This is that we like Him will care enough for people that we will be prepared to die for them. This is the Heart of God!!! In losing this focus it is in the arena of life shadow boxing with lots of activity but having more misses than hits.

    Our modern preachers have exchanged the
    • Word of God
    • Ministry of the Holy Spirit
    • Real Worship
    For cheap substitutes and the blessing of God is now misrepresented by the size of the church, the income statement and a host of entertainment being flaunted to draw the crowds and when in the church the watered down sermon is nothing more than a plea for finances for some new thing.. The growth in the Fruit of the Spirit and the characters of the Christian is fast losing its importance.

    The disease of the New Thing is serious and we are in desperate need of a new breed of preacher who will be repentant before God and who will come to grips with the real responsibility of the pulpit.

    A new thing is propagated at such a rate with no assessment of the long list of other new things being forced on unsuspecting followers who are taught that submission is the order of the day and very few Christians possess the ability to question the goings on of the preacher and a sad lack of courage to expose the insensitivity and lack of spirituality is so prevalent in our churches.

    This is not a bitter critique at work but a Man of God who feeds people in his circle with a different respect.

    The era of the New Thing is not working, believers are not maturing and in most churches people are not being challenged to be “Born Again” but rather to join in a club which caters for the rich and has a huge focus on entertainment.

    Each new thing is going to cost the participants and this automatically rules out the poor.

    How long these preachers will be allowed by God to continue is unknown but one thing is sure and that is:

    • They are going to have to give account of their doings
    • The blood of people who go lost will be required at their hands
    • Christ is coming for a vibrant church and in the process of changing from what the church is to what God wants it to be is going to be at a cost and this is not money BUT a place in the courts of Heaven.

    We need Spirit filled men who will discard the craving for a new thing and trust in God to put the GOLD back in the temple (The Gold being the Word of God, the Ministry of the Holy Spirit and True Worship). Let us dump the entertainment “Foofie”. The “Foofie of Entertainment” era is not working and proof of this is the lack of Miracles, Signs and Wonders in our churches because the Word of God has being replaced with Bronze Substitutes. The “FOOFIE” is and includes new visions at a rate that the courts of Heaven must be working overtime to create the inspiration, A course for every conceivable issue in life and at a price so that the poor and not so acceptable can be excluded, entertainment of fantastic calibre BUT not really anointed and no lasting effects, the fervent following of every wind of doctrine (Gimmicks) on the shelves of the religious Supermarket. We have new songs with very professional musicians entertaining the congregation every week BUT out of the door have gone the participation of the congregation.

    As preachers we need to repent (Turn away from) and invite the Pioneer of the church (Jesus) back into his rightful place and that we regain a passion for people and how we care for each other.

    If you have read this article with an open mind and feel challenged by the dynamics of this word then print it and pass it around, mail it to every Christian you know and if you really feel brave pass it on to any preachers you know.

    I have NO doubt that God is using me to feed people, with inspired and timeous words, all over the world and to you the reader I say “Get to Know Him” and never be satisfied with what is being dished out as “A New Thing” It could cost you your place in Heaven. Make sure that you are Born Again and not attracted to a lifestyle in the church which has not challenged your life by the Word of God.

    Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me
    Al His wondrous compassion and purity
    Oh thou Spirit Divine all my nature refine
    Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in m

    A mirror image of Him in Us is what the world and we want to see

    God Bless
    Stan Almendro

    Interested parties who wish to discuss any aspect of this article (Or those needing spiritual guidance) can contact the editor of Hearing God at stan@whisperpoetry.com +27 (0) 79 514 9165

    The editor also hosts “Whisper from the Heart Poetry Club” and a visit to our site (www.whisperpoetry.com) will give full details on all the events that Writers; Artist’s; Musicians; Singers & Photographers can take part in.

    Send all enquiries to info@whisperpoetry.com

  11. Cecilia Butcher
    September 25, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Christianity started in Palestine

    NOT PALESTINE Palestine did not exist when Christianity started

  1. July 16, 2009 at 3:39 am
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