“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Evangelism

I recently said, during a teaching session, that I disliked, and disagreed with the ever-popular colloquialism that is on the lips of the Christian community today -- "God loves the sinner, but hates the sin"

I expected to get reaction from that, and sure enough, I did. I had several people come up and said "God does not 'hate' anyone". They were appalled that I would say such a thing. I tried to, probably unsuccessfully, talk with them about the fallacy of the statement.

When one tells a person who is lost that God loves them, but hates their sin, they hear, and agree with: God loves me. This does not speak of the damnation that is facing those who die without Christ. It is a false 'advertisement'.

I must confess that I find so much so-called 'evangelism' today to be nothing more than an activity that people do to apply balm to their OWN souls. It comforts one to say "I 'did' evangelism today". However, much of this evangelism really is nothing more than a handful of well-learned, witty statements that do not bring to bear the very real, and dire situation, a lost soul is in.

A statement such as "God loves the sinner, but hates the sin" is untrue, for God does not send the SIN, but, in fact, the SINNER to hell! One who hears these words and continues in their sins is comfy knowing that God 'loves' them! This is nothing more than universalism. The lost souls remains comfortably numb, to borrow a phrase from Roger Waters.

Another reason that I dislike this statement, and others like it is that it allows the redeemed to approach evangelism with a laissez-faire mentality -- taking away the urgency and seriousness of evangelism. There is no pleading for men's souls -- rather there is a warm, cotton candy feeling of 'accomplishment', when in fact, NOTHING has been accomplished.

We can stay safely within our realm of 'being liked' while 'sharing' with others. Sadly, those within the church oftentimes do not weep for the lost, or pray for them -- rather they send them these little 'Hallmark-moments', that quite frankly, are not meant to drive a person to their knees in repentance, but are meant to provide comfort and acceptance to the soul of the redeemed!

Let our evangelism be done in a way that is Biblical and urgent. Let me leave you with some thoughts from Paul as regards his heart towards his brothers, the Israelites:

Romans 9:1 - 3 -- I am speaking the truth in Christ — I am not lying; my conscience bears me witness in the Holy Spirit— that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.

Let our heart for the lost be so great that we are in anguish for their souls!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Further Observations

I just wanted to post and state that I received some interesting comments (via phone and email), about my last post. One person accused me of being the very type of pastor they are 'running away from'. They claim that they are living with another person (not a spouse), yet they LOVE the Lord with all their heart.

Can I just add another controversial statement to my last post? How can one love the Lord with all their heart and yet live in a lifestyle that they KNOW is inconsistent with the Bible? Jesus states in the Word, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments". What do we do with that?

Now, I understand that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God -- I sin everyday, no question about that. But here we are talking about a WILLFUL, REBELLIOUS lifestyle that is counter to the Biblical model for a man and a woman in marriage; one in which the person knows that their lifestyle is wrong (they told me they knew it)! How can you square that with the words, I love the Lord with all my heart?

This is why I posted the last time, and here these folks are simply solidifying my feeling that the U.S. Church (at least), has completely lost its moral compass -- it is no longer that the Bible is the infallible rule for the life of a Christian -- now it is the social mores of the society around us that set the tone for what is acceptable.

And it does not stop with this one thing -- witness the issues in many of the mainline denominations with the ordination of gays, or the performing of 'wedding' ceremonies for homosexuals. This is due to the fact that the word of God is no longer 'valid' in the eyes of the church, at least as a rule for life. No, it has some 'good ideas', and people today talk about tragectorial theology (where was Paul heading with his theology had his life not been ended, or had he been sufficiently enlightened), to validate the any and all of their variances from Biblical norm.

And these people lead with their emotions -- "I know a really nice XXX that loves the Lord" (fill in the blank). This is a dangerous and slippery slope -- witness Carlton Pearson's slide into universalism -- when they interview him, his statement is very much akin to this. Everyone builds their own personal Jesus and then makes the claim -- "MY Jesus would never judge anyone.", or "MY Jesus would never confront anyone about their sin". Yet that is what He consistently did within the pages of the Bible!

May I just say that if you know a really nice XXX, AND you believe the Bible to be true, then would you not tell them about the gospel, and explain that it is not enough to be a really nice person? I have many really nice XXX's that I know, and they know my feelings about their lifestyle -- do I hate them? No, but I make it clear that BECAUSE I care about them, and I understand the grace shown to me, a wretched sinner, I MUST share the gospel with them and tell them they are in danger of hell. That may seem narrow-minded to many, but if you truly care for someone, do you just let them go on their merry way? That is not being tolerant; rather it is cowardice -- you are more afraid of what they will think of you than you are of their eternal home. I can't call that loving and tolerant.

Paul went through persecution by the Jews for his proclamation of the gospel, yet in Romans he says that if he could give his salvation away to save his fellow Jews, he would do so. Does that seem unloving and narrow-minded? No, it is a clear understanding of the ramifications of the gospel, and a clear view of the grace shown to him.

We all must come under the rule of Biblical teaching -- we do not redefine it, it redefines us, and until (if ever), the U.S. Church understands that, we will have a weak, tepid, polarized and politicized faith; without unity or a clear bearing on truth. We will not be a City on a Hill, but rather another dim light shining amidst the lights of this world.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Observations on Church

I find it interesting that I will often find people who come to our church and tell me about the 'legalistic' church they just left. This has happened several times, and one person even had a rant on their web page about 'legalistic' churches, and how they were 'killing' the church!

So, I began, after I learned, to check a bit into these claims. I could not believe that there were that many legalistic churches out there; my experience has been quite the opposite, or they are the neo-nomianism folks, ala Osteen.

What I found as I did this was an interesting fact -- These so-called 'legalistic' churches did not approve of a lifestyle of sin, and therefore, these people had left. This is why it is important to get letters of transfer, if possible, from people.

They will look at you like you are crazy, especially at a little church like ours -- they think they can get away with hiding in a little place. To give but one example:

Them: "We left our last church because they were SOOOO legalistic"

Me: "What was their concern?"

Them: "Well, they thought it was wrong that me and my girlfriend live together."

Me: "Well, so do we!"

Them: "bye".

It is amazing to me how people think one is being 'legalistic' by simply upholding church discipline! And this is common! People are shocked and appalled when I 'get in their business' as the pastor of the church! As if, what they do in their own time is of no consequence to the church. A completely unbiblical attitude!

We truly have reached a point where Biblical literacy is at its nadir!