Monday, October 08, 2007

No More Excuses

In writing a prayer calendar this morning, I came across the following verse of Scripture. I've seen it many times before but today it rings with renewed resonance . . .

Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:30-31).

This strikes me especially forcefully because of the energy so many churches expend these days to be "trendy" and "welcoming." We consult Madison Avenue and marketing consultants for tips on how to get people in the doors. We think if we can sell our "product" in a savvy-enough manner, we'll "close the sale" and gain a new convert. Sounds great, that is if we're trying to get people to sample Wheat Thins. But that's not what proclaiming the Gospel is all about, that is if you take Scripture seriously.

No matter how many warm fuzzies we try to inject in the message, the bottom line is this. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. We are commanded to acknowledge our sin, and to repent of our sin. We are also commanded to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead for our justification. No matter how you slice it, that kind of message is not palatable to a lost and dying (not to mention narcissistic) culture. But it is the truth unvarnished, and then some. Our purpose as followers of Christ is not to tell the culture it is just fine and dandy. Our purpose is to confront the culture with the claims of Christ.

By all means, we are to exhibit the love of Christ. The world will know we are His by our love for ONE ANOTHER. We should also love the lost enough to tell them the truth, no matter what their reaction and no matter what the consequence. Their accepting the message is not our concern. It's God's concern. Our job is to proclaim the truth and allow the Holy Spirit to do His part. Any other approach will not have a lasting impact. You can't have a Savior without knowing that you need one. If you are never brought face to face with your sin, you will continue to be oblivious to the fact that you -- yes, YOU -- and me . . . are lost and have no hope without the shed blood of Christ.

But, you say, that message will turn people off. You'll drive people out the door. No one will attend our church. Really? Are you saying that the Holy Spirit has become incapable of drawing people to Himself? Scripture says otherwise. Is God impressed with numbers? Jesus said, "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over ONE sinner who repents" (Luke 15:10). He also said, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out" (John 6:37).

I don't know about you, but I'll take the Lord's word over that of a bunch of "church growth" consultants any day. Better to be in a church with five saved people rather than one with 10,000 who are unregenerate because they've never really heard the Gospel.

1 comment:

Jake said...

It doesn't matter how many times I read things like this, I love hearing it! What I don't understand is why it seems only the reformers have this understanding? Why are they the only ones that commit themselves to preach it?