Friday, August 22, 2008

It's the Gospel, stupid!

I ran across this interesting article this morning:

Young evangelical backs out of convention prayer

There is a lot there to discuss: Should Christians lead prayer in an interfaith environment? Would Strang's presence really be an endorsement of Obama? What is the relationship between a Christian and politics? Is there room for any sort of Christian co-belligerence?

But the one thing that struck me was how, at least in the reporter's view, religious topics were focused on issues like abortion, political party, the environment, and other so-called "shared values." Missing was the truth that what makes Christians different is the Lord who owns and empowers us. We believe that God the Son came to dwell among us as a man, died on the cross for sinners, rose from the dead on the third day, now rules and reigns in heaven, will one day return to judge the living and the dead, and the only way a sinner can be made right with God is to repent and believe in Christ alone for salvation. And that's the power of God unto salvation!

I am not saying we as Christians should be unconcerned about things like abortion. James 1:27 says, "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world." Pastor James is going through James in Sunday School (no he didn't write it...), and he just taught an excellent lesson on this verse.

That being said, I was especially reminded of the centrality and power of the Gospel in two recent sermons.

At Southern Seminary's opening convocation, Dr. Mohler preached an excellent message entitled The Year of Living Dangerously.

And I have linked to this one by Pastor Jim already, but in case you haven't yet heard it... The Early Church's Influence on Society:

The world is at times afraid of us, but they are afraid of us for all the wrong reasons. The world's afraid of certain religions. They're certainly afraid of fundamentalism right now. They're afraid of Islam because Islam might kill them. They're afraid of us because they're afraid we're going to take away their so-called political or social liberties. They're afraid of Pat Robertson and Dr. Dobson not because they see God is with them but because they perceive them as anti-this and anti-that and pushing their morality upon others. They have unfounded fears that if Christians have their way, we'll lock everybody up that disagrees with us, etc., etc. You've heard it all.

But brethren, I'm asking when was the last time that our gatherings produced in a soul that sense that God is real and powerful and active and on the move in the lives of God's people. Somebody has the experience that we read about in 1 Cor., where an unbeliever comes and the secrets of his heart are exposed and he falls down and says, "God is of a truth among you." When was the last time that happened in church? When was the last time something like that came close to happening in our midst?


Is your expression of Christianity easily explained away? A cultural, pleasant, acceptable, costless form of Republican Christianity. You may read the Bible on occasion, listen to some Christian music, quote Jesus every now and then, have a Jesus poster up. That's not what I'm asking. I'm asking has your heart ever been pierced? Have you ever come under a conviction of your sin? Have you ever cried out, "What must I do?" Have you ever repented? Have you ever clung to Jesus the way a drowning man clings to a life preserver? Have you ever committed yourself to a group of God's people? Are you devoted to God's doctrine and worship, to prayer, to the breaking of bread? Have you ever parted with your goods, denying yourself for the sake of the kingdom of God and the people of God? And if not, why not?

Well I'll tell you why not. Most likely you have a religion of your own making. You may have turned over a new leaf, but you've never been converted. It's what you've done and what you want, and that's what your Christianity's all about. And, my friend, it produces no wonder, it produces no awe, it produces no fear. It produces no awe or wonder in you, it doesn't produce any in your family, it doesn't produce any in the church, it doesn't produce any among the people of the world. They see you, and you're just like them!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home