Friday, July 11, 2008

A Fear of Mine

For quite some time I have shared with the church that I pastor and with others one of the biggest fears that I have. It is not about my safety, job security, paying bills or our economy. It is about those folks that sit in the pews Sunday after Sunday.

I am not trying to sound over-pastoral, if that is possible, but the concern is real.

The burden that I have is one that many of us as Christians have. It is simply the concern that many, and I mean many, that sit in the pews on a regular basis are not saved and believe they are.

I regularly preach and teach those who care nothing for the Word, for holiness, for lost people, or for the glory of God to be revealed in their life. They are just content on being there, doing their duty, and going through the motions.

I think the reasons for this are wide and varied but I want to go over two reasons.

Before I go any further let me say that I am aware that God is the One who convicts us and draws us and awakens our hearts to our sinfulness and His greatness. The reasons I list here are ones that I think are our fault in the matter.

There is a basic misunderstanding of what salvation is. I suppose a lot of this is because of the preaching itself. If we preach that God want's to heal your marriage, finances and wayward children and not that we are hell-bound sinners because of our separation from God then ignorance will abound.

The second reason is just as pervasive. Though it appears to be the same as what is mentioned above, it's slightly different. The church has become a carnival of activities. The gospel is not preached and so the community views the church as a moral funhouse. A safe place where you can go and get re-filled, pumped-up, or simply a few laughs. Then many join the funhouse and growth is reported.

I believe the church is responsible for this huge mirage that has been put out there for the world to see. Satan does not have to be directly involved in this deception when the church is more than willing to do it for him.

3 comments:

jon said...

1. To the first concern, it is certainly true that in most preaching today Jesus has become something that we add to our lives, which is contrary to the truth of Scripture that says He is EVERYTHING and very life itself. In many local congregations in America today, we try on Jesus as if He were new clothes and ask, "How does that feel?" We try on Jesus as if He were new shoes and ask, "How does that fit?" It's interesting that, although a many of these local congregation would shun the prosperity doctrines of the Word Faith Movement, yet those same local congregations will exalt their own prosperity doctrines, using Jesus as a means to an end, instead of His being to us our only desire. We casually and blasphemously use the name of Jesus as a tallisman or magic spell in order to fix our marriage, get off drugs, balance our check books, have our best life now, be a better you, and etc. Certainly, a misunderstanding of salvation, even a perversion of the gospel, is pervasive; that we have no idea, even no interest in the Cross of Jesus Christ; that we use only the portions of Scripture that vindicate our own pursuit of happiness, whether in the here and now, or even the hereafter.

The root of the problem is, I believe, theological. Since many pastors, teachers, preachers, evangelists, etc., have strayed from the Biblical doctrines of God's sovereign grace, man's total depravity, etc. Instead, these men have adopted a theology that requires fallen man, who is dead in trespasses and sins according to Scripture, to make the first move toward God. Although this view clearly conflicts with Scripture, such as Ephesians 2:1, et al, yet, a greater tragedy is implied with that sad and unfortunate doctrine. It suggests that if the world did not fail to satisfy, then God would be unnecessary; that man wouldn't have left the ungodly world for God if it supplied man's needs and desires. In this view God is second choice. How utterly blasphemous!

2. And because of that, since God is all we have left because the ungodly world failed to live up to what fallen man believes that it deserves, the gathering of "believers" in Jesus' name must now become a place that occupies time in order to vindicate the view that man has chosen God over the unfulfilling world. Therefore, the church must become more interesting than the world, and hence, ever trick, method, and gimmick is applied in order to attract other like-minded folk. Thus, the "salvation" of man has a greater importance than the glory of God; the power from God becomes more appealing than the Person of Jesus Christ; the ministry of the church becomes more excellent than the exaltation of Christ and the wonders of His work upon the Cross. In short, we become our own desire rather than desiring the only one worth desiring: God, in the Person of the Son, Jesus Messiah.

"Whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever" (Psalm 73:25-26).

Ironically, since I've learned some of those things... and believe that I can be a better pastor in knowing them, my condition and situation are such that I will not be able to pastor a local congregation again. Yet, because the prize is Christ; because my desire is the Master, beholding Him and the truth of His work upon the Cross; because there is none good but one, that is God; because of all that God is, was, and always will be, I trust His sovereign grace, and one moment in His glory is greater than an eternity of moments anywhere and everywhere else.

grateful said...

Jon said: "...the ministry of the church becomes more excellent than the exaltation of Christ and the wonders of His work upon the Cross. In short, we become our own desire rather than desiring the only one worth desiring: God, in the Person of the Son, Jesus Messiah."

Dead Theo. good subject.
jon, very good post

point 2 was very convicting to read.

for me, my own activity of trying to reach out to others through my own blog can and has also become more excellent than the exaltation of Christ. So very true. something to repent of and watch out for always. thank you for that post.

Dead Theo.
you are bearing precious seed when you labor in your congregation. You may not see the results in this life with some of your people. Keep being faithful to your task.

Dead Theologians said...

Grateful,

Excellent points. Thanks for the comment.

DT

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