Monday, August 9, 2010

Sinners in the hands of a confused church, Part 3

...more problems with the simplified version of the gospel. (If you are lost check out part 1-2)

It destroys the mystery of salvation. Who really completely understands it? Is it meant to be understood? To me, it is an underserved acceptance of a wicked being, the adoption of a filthy bum by a king. It will never make sense to me. But I will take joy in this great mystery, that He loves me. I don’t know how the equation works, but I trust him. I trust Him, not the equation! He is my Hope.

We convince people through logic, not the spirit. We have to remember that it is the Spirit who calls men unto himself (John 6:44; those who were appointed believed, Acts 13:48; Ephesians 1; Rom 8:28-31). It is not by the works or explanations of men, our understanding, or our philosophies. It is an undeserved miracle done by the Holy Spirit that should cause Awe in our life every day.

It creates false hope. These “roman road/4 spiritual laws” type evangelistic methods basically guarantee that if you follow these steps, you will receive eternal life in heaven. What about the parable of the sower? Or when Paul said it is those who endure to the end who receive the prize? It is not about ‘a moment in time’ or a ‘spiritual birthday’ when we become ‘saved.’ It is about deciding to follow Jesus completely, no reserves, whatever he asks of us.

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard at funerals “It brings me so much comfort knowing that he walked the aisle and asked Jesus into his heart when he was 8” Even though he never followed Christ! Even though he lived in the world! There were no fruits in his life? This is FALSE HOPE! It is a LIE!

Think of the calling of Peter in Matt 4:18-20 Jesus said, “follow me and I’ll make you fishers of men.” Now, if Peter had said, “Okay Lord, I’ll do it!” Then went back to his nets, would he be a follower of Christ? No, he would be a Jesus-watcher or maybe a Jesus-Admirer. But that is what most Christians do these days. They make a confession of faith that is not backed up by their lives. There lives look no different from before except they go to some holy building on Sundays. What Peter did do is this: He and his brother left (the word implies permanently) their nets and followed Jesus. Their nets were their hope for future and financial stability. But they LEFT it! And followed Jesus. They found ALL their hope in Jesus. This is what salvation should look like today!

It does not present the true Christian life, just the good stuff. The way we present the gospel today, we might as well dress up like a used car salesman when we go out evangelizing. It is basically the same concept. Let’s share with them all the good stuff you get, but we are conveniently going to forget the difficulties. How many of you have ever heard a gospel presentation that included a warning about future persecution? That the people will hate you? That God may ask you to give up people/things that you love? That he has commanded you to go to the nations? That you will suffer? When these things begin to appear because of faith in Jesus, the new believer feels lied to. They feel like they bought a lemon. And they fall away. In fact in my experience most of the people who come to Christ though these methodologies return to the world in short order. Especially when there is no discipleship present. Maybe it is time we give an honest presentation of what following Christ might entail. Maybe then people will know what they are getting into. The persecuted church understands this concept and those who come to Christ in these countries know it will more than likely lead to persecution or even death. But they follow him anyway because He is worth it.

It breeds lazy cheaters. I have always been a poor mathematician. And I am going to confess something openly here. My best friends girlfriend did almost all of my geometry homework. Yes, I cheated. I never really understood or cared to understand geometry. Why? Because it was easier to have someone else do it. The same concept proves true in the Christian church today. If you can’t work or present the “salvation formula” well take them to someone who can. Usually when someone has a lost friend, they bring him or her to church. Why? because there are qualified spiritual mathematicians there who can do it for you.

This was unheard of in the first century church. Because if you had Jesus, you shared him. You testified to his glory and goodness. You shared in his sufferings, etc. But we have made evangelism into something that is better worked out by professionals. This has done great damage to the kingdom of God.

Heaven is not the point! Jesus is! I have always found it strange that the major push behind modern evangelism was heaven. Something that will happen after we die?! Really? Is that the hope we have found? That in 40-60 years we will get to be with God in heaven? Streets of gold and all that. If that is it, I will pass. That is not enough for me. I want/need something for now! That impacts my life and helps me to know abundant life. The point of true evangelism is not heaven, but JESUS! He is the reward, He is our portion! He is our Hope! He is our Strength, He is our Rest. He is our EVERYTHING!

In fact, the passage that most people use to understand what heaven is like is actually talking about the New Jerusalem. Seeing New Jerusalem as simply a place (heaven) is missing the richness of the text. The New Jerusalem is the church in all her glory, cleansed and presented to the groom, Jesus. This is the wedding feast, the consummation of our relationship with Christ. Our waiting is over; we are being made whole in HIM! Read it, it will give you new perspective. Revelation 21


Anonymous said...

Good words. I have heard "once saved, always saved" my whole life but have always questioned it. Thank you for addressing this important issue.

Bobbi Youngblood