Recently, a popular, seeker-driven, mega-church pastor blogged that since Christians are spirit filled, we should do things better than Apple, better than Disney and better than Google. I fear that the seeker-driven model has led many to believe this same thing. It causes us to evaluate ourselves and our churches in a very pragmatic way. Success becomes defined by how many seats we fill, how much money we receive and in everything we do being more than the culture around us. By this standard, our music should be more entertaining, our books should be better written and our church service is judged on aesthetics and cultural relevancy. I don’t believe that comparisons to Apple, Disney and Google are valid. Our standard, our measuring stick is the Word of God. We can perform better than the culture and still be unbiblical. We are never guaranteed success by the world’s standard. However, we are promised that suffering and persecution are going to come to those who follow after Jesus. I am encouraged by the pastor of the small church, and the missionary who sees few converts, but both continue to be faithful to their call. Are they failures because their results are viewed as less than those of the world? I think not. We do need to be prepared to contend for the faith. We need to give our best effort for the cause of Christ, but we are not defined by the results. God is responsible for the results of our faithfulness. God’s strength is evident in our weaknesses. Many times we are not called to be the best, but the least. My fear is that the American church is moving toward pragmatism and away from biblical fidelity.
Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’
Tags: Christian, Christianity, Jesus
Tags: Good Friday, Jesus, The Cross
With today being Good Friday, it disturbs me to see and hear so many who miss the point of today. I just came from a Good Friday service where the sermon focused on Jesus saying I am thirsty while on the cross. After some very fine isogesis about that statement, we were told about serving. Jesus can do nothing without the church, and this statement was Him inviting us to serve. The last time I checked that is not the reason for Good Friday. Good Friday is all about what happened on the cross. This weekend is all about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Without which there would be no forgiveness of sins. The message of the cross is a hard message, and many pastors will shy away from telling the story. Today the Gospel should be proclaimed for all to hear.
We have another church in our community playing off of Obama presidential campaign posters. They are using the posters that said Obama is hope and had his picture. They have replaced Obama’s name and photo with the name of Jesus and a traditional looking Jesus image. This is a pet peeve of mine to begin with. The use of this traditional view of Jesus has in many cases become a graven image to our society. We have no clue what Jesus looks like, but yet here is this commonly used image of our own making that makes us comfortable. That was just a side note, but my real trouble is with the Jesus is Hope message. This message sounds good on the surface, but what does it really convey. To portray Obama and Jesus in any similar way is just wrong to me. Jesus is not hope for a better economy or any of things Obama proclaimed to be. Jesus is not the one who is going to make your life better if you accept Him. Following Jesus may very well wreck your life as you know it. Jesus is our sacrifice and our propitiation. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. He took the wrath that was upon us. He is our Lord and Savior. He is our king who is coming again. Our hope is not in this world, but in the Kingdom to come.
So, why did He come? Did Jesus come to teach us a better way to live? Did He come to make the world a better place? Did He come so that those who believed in Him would have prosperity? The answer is no to all of the above. The Father sent the Son to die in our place. Because of the curse of sin, no one is righteous in the sight of God. We are all born under the curse, and subject to the wrath of God as a result. Only God Himself coming down out of Heaven could take our place. It took a perfect spotless lamb. Jesus is that lamb. He was beat beyond recognition. He was battered and bruised. His flesh was torn and His blood spilled. He was rejected by His own people. All because of you and me. We are the reason He had to come. He was placed on a Roman cross to die. On that cross the sins of the world – past, present and future – were placed on Him. Isaiah 53:10 – But the LORD was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; He was crushed on our behalf. That is what today is about. The substitutionary atonement of Christ on the cross is celebrated on Good Friday.
For those who don’t know the rest of the story, don’t worry. Sunday is coming. The tomb could not hold Jesus. On Sunday Jesus arose from the dead. Proving that He was no ordinary man, He arose and walked this earth again until He returned to the right hand of the Father. As a result, we have a way (the only way) to be forgiven for our sins. We have to repent of our sinful ways, and believe that Jesus, as the Son of God did everything mentioned above. We have to believe in Him as our Lord and Savior. This is a believing that goes beyond a head knowledge. If I am in a plane, I may believe the pack beside me is a parachute. But if the engine fails, I better believe (have full faith) that the parachute is everything it is supposed to be. To believe in Christ is to have a trust that He is everything He claimed to be. And in that trust, we are willing to devote ourselves fully to Him and nothing else. As a result, our lives are noticeably changed. If you go to a church that doesn’t preach this message, find a new church that does. There is no message that is more important.
Do you know the true God or a god of your own making? If you know the true God, is it evident by the way you live your life. Pastor Jason began laying out the vision for our church on Sunday. He stressed the importance of knowing God, not just with your head but with your heart. It is the first step in any church’s discipleship process. I decided to look at many of the verses about knowing God. Let’s look at a few.
23 This is what the LORD says:
The wise must not boast in his wisdom;
the mighty must not boast in his might;
the rich must not boast in his riches.
24 But the one who boasts should boast in this,
that he understands and knows Me —
that I am the LORD, showing faithful love,
justice, and righteousness on the earth,
for I delight in these things.
[This is] the LORD‘s declaration.
What are we as Christians boasting in? Are we boasting about knowing God, or are we boasting about all the great services our church offers? There are too many churches who are not boasting about God in the community or in the church. They feel the need to put on a show, as if God might need help drawing people to Himself. Quit boasting about how much money you have, or how many people you have. Then start boasting about God, so that others may come to know Him.
1 Corinthians 2:2 – For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
How many times do we forget this simple truth? We are so determined for others to know about feeding the poor and helping the sick, that we forget there is nothing more important to know the truth of Christ and Him crucified. This is a weekly message, but in some churches it is only preached at Easter. No one can truly know God without knowing about Jesus and His crucifixion.
2 Timothy 1:11-12 – 11 For this [gospel] I was appointed a herald, apostle, and teacher, 12 and that is why I suffer these things. But I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to guard what has been entrusted to me until that day.
Too many today are ashamed of the Gospel. But this verse shows we should not be ashamed because we know in whom we have believed and what He is able to do. I can’t understand how anyone who knows God and knows what Jesus did on the cross could ever be ashamed to declare they know Him. It makes me angry when I see pastors ashamed to proclaim the truth. I know Him. Do you know Him? If so, it is time to stop being ashamed that you know Him. If you don’t know Him, nothing is more important to know. If you don’t know Him, you are enslaved by the sin in your life. The only way to be freed is by knowing Jesus and believing in Him. He died on a cross for our sins. He took the punishment we deserved. He was buried and three days later rose again. How could we ever be ashamed to know Him?
Tags: Hannity & Colmes, Jesus, Rick Warren
I need to comment on Rick Warren’s interview on Hannity & Colmes. This will probably step on some toes, because Rick Warren is like the sacred cow to some Baptists. I have had some issues with him in the past, but have let them go because I think he means well. Last night on Hannity & Colmes, he made Jesus look like a joke. He at first does a very good job proclaiming Jesus to be the only way to Heaven. But when pushed on what happens to those who don’t profess Jesus as their personal savior, he fails badly. He dodges the question by saying this is the perfect time of year to give Jesus a chance. He then challenges people to give Jesus a 60 day trial or your money back guarantee. Alan Colmes responds just like the book of the month club. This is a highly disrespectful way to talk about Jesus. I understand Mr. Warren is from the seeker sensitive crowd. He goes out of his way not to offend anyone. But when he soft sells Jesus and Christianity to make them more palatable, he is giving a Gospel that is not true. Jesus should in no way be allowed to be compared to a book of the month club. He goes on to say that Jesus is a gift from God that we just need to unwrap. And if we do, we get to have a purpose in life and get to go to Heaven. Notice no mention of sin and no mention of the need for repentance. According to Rick, God sent Jesus so that Christians could have a purpose in life. Jesus is a nice pretty little package that all we need to do is unwrap. That is not the Jesus of the Bible. God sent Jesus to die on a cross, a bloody unrecognizable mess, in order to save us from the wrath of God. Jesus is not a nice little package to open and try out for 60 days. Jesus is the only way we can be forgiven of our sins. We should run to Him and fall on our faces is admiration of what He has done. The real Jesus is foolishness to many in the world today. Pastor Warren is trying to sweeten Him up in order to get people to accept Him. But if they are not falling before the real Savior, he may be leading them to Hell. Following Jesus does not necessarily make anyones life better. It is not suddenly all perfect after becoming a Christian. I would like for pastor Warren to just preach the Gospel of the Bible, and to let God worry about changing people’s hearts. Just preach the Word pastor, God doesn’t need our help to save people.
I have been taking time lately to try and put myself in the shoes of the people living when books of the Bible were written. This process has led me to appreciate some of the passages more. I would encourage you to think about who the books of the Bible are written to and about. One thing that has struck me is in regard to the many Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah. First let’s remember in the Old Testament they are sacrificing animals to cover their sins. They then begin getting prophecies of a coming Messiah. Does He come immediately? No. For hundreds upon hundreds of years they wait in anticipation. Generation upon generation passing on the prophecies about the Messiah. Then John the Baptist comes on to the scene. In John 1 the Jews send priests and Levites to ask John the Baptist who he was. He replies that he is not the Messiah. So after all these years, they are obviously still looking for and anticipating the Messiah. From Leviticus until this point they are still offering up sacrifices to cover their sins. The next day after John talked with the priests and Levites everything changed.
John 1:29-31 – 29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the One I told you about: ‘After me comes a man who has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’ 31 I didn’t know Him, but I came baptizing with water so He might be revealed to Israel.”
Look what he says. “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” No more covering of sins, for the Messiah had come to take away sins. Hundreds of years of anticipation and finally He was there. Imagine the excitement and hope of people when they began to realize who Jesus was. We many times take this for granted because we come afterward. We want to move past this into “deeper” issues. But there is nothing deeper to learn than the Messiah who came to take away sin. We should be excited and thankful that we don’t have to make an effort to cover our sins. Our sins are already taken away when we come to the Messiah.
Most rejected Him though. They fell asleep and forgot who they were looking for. Today as we wait for Jesus to come again, are we prepared? Are we eagerly waiting with anticipation and hope? Is Jesus your Messiah, Christ, Lord and Savior now? If He is not, don’t wait until it is too late. When the Messiah returns again it will be too late. We have been waiting nearly 2000 years for His return. This time everyone will know who He is. This time every knee will bow. What a glorious day.