Archive for November, 2009
Posted by in Pastor's Blog on November 18th, 2009
What do you think a city would like if Satan took control of it? Although it is pure speculation, I think that if Satan took control of Athens, Tennessee, all of the bars would close, pornography would be banished and the streets would be filled with happy people who smiled and greeted each other pleasantly. There would be no swearing, children would pray non-sectarian prayers in the schools, say “yes sir” and “no ma’am,” and the churches would be filled to capacity every Sunday!
These churches would preach morality, pietism and strong “family values.” There would be an emphasis on patriotism, warnings about liberalism and above all, the sermon would be relevant. What would be missing would be a crucified, resurrected Christ who came to save sinners from the wrath of a holy God.
Satan is known by many titles in the Bible, two of them are “a roaring lion” and a “transforming angel of light.” In 21st century America I think he is far more dangerous as the latter rather than the former. He is much easier to recognize when he is being sinister than when he is being subtle.
Survey after survey shows that millions of Americans believe that God exists for the pleasure of humankind. He is in heaven solely for our benefit and utility.
Eighty-two percent of Americans (and a majority of evangelicals) believe that Benjamin Franklin’s aphorism, “God helps those who help themselves,” is a biblical quotation. A majority believe that “all people pray to the same god or spirit, no matter what name they use for that spiritual being” and that “if a person is generally good or does enough good things for others during their life, they will earn a place in heaven.”‘
It should not surprise us, then, when former President Bush said in an interview some years ago, “I believe that all the world, whether they be Muslim, Christian, or any other religion, prays to the same God. That’s what I believe.”
The well known pollster George Barna says,
“…the spirituality of America is Christian in name only….We desire experience more than knowledge. We prefer choices to absolutes. We embrace preferences rather than truths. We seek comfort rather than growth. Faith must come on our terms or we reject it. We have enthroned ourselves as the final arbiters of righteousness, the ultimate rulers of our own experience and destiny. We are the Pharisees of the new millennium.”
We must be vigilant that we do not replace the gospel of Jesus Christ with a pietism that makes men moral but does not save them “…from the wrath to come.”
Posted by in Pastor's Blog on November 13th, 2009
Are we afraid of the Gospel? Not too long ago I read an article about the modern, evangelical church being Gospel cowards. The premise of the article is that we want a tame gospel, one that does not challenge the status quo, one that allows us to keep all of our cultural traditions without demanding a radical worldview.
It is so easy to become like the Pharisees without even realizing it. The Pharisees of the New Testament times were the true conservatives of their day and in many ways like much of the church of our day. They were orthodox in their theology, politically lined up to the right and pious in their behavior.
The problem was that they had misunderstood theology, had an incorrect worldview and were legalistic in their daily lives.
How much of our Christianity is gospel based and gospel driven and how much of it is based on the cultural traditions of our time and driven by a political agenda that may or may not be Christ centered?
Answering these questions is far more complicated than they appear at first glance. We all have a tendency to shy away from any self-examination that would challenge our cherished traditions and beliefs. It is easy for me to examine someone else’s life and tell them where they are in step with the world but much more difficult for me to recognize my own tendency to compromise the gospel to keep my “sacred cows” from being made into hamburger.
Our gospel is safe. The Gospel is dangerous and radical. It is time that we cease to be gospel cowards.