Monday, August 15, 2005

The Part of the Gospel That Angers

Picking up where my last post ended, I wanted to point out that many non-Christians and false converts often find the teaching of the Law, hell, and judgment extremely distasteful. They often blame the messenger (the witnessing Christian) for such an offense, however, the Bible actually tells us to expect this reaction! Those living in the flesh and not willing to confess and repent of their sin cannot accomplish reconciliation with God and this is why they are enemies of the Gospel and entire Bible.

John 6:63 (NLT) - It is the Spirit who gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

We are warned that there will be false teachers among us:

2 Peter 2:1 (NLT) - But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach their destructive heresies about God and even turn against their Master who bought them. Theirs will be a swift and terrible end.

2 Peter 2:2 (NLT) - Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of them, Christ and his true way will be slandered.

If a person doesn't know what should be there in the gospel message, then they won't know what is missing. Reading the Bible helps us find what to look for. If you are involved in a church that omits the teaching of the Law, hell, and judgment, then you will know that the church you are attending is not teaching the whole counsel of the Lord! Watering down the parts that taste like bitter medicine to the world unfortunately causes the gospel message to lose its curative properties. Those who object and claim that we are being "judgmental" and "harsh" and "condemning" towards them for pointing out their sin have not paid close enough attention to what Jesus said:

John 5:24 (KJV) - Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

What does this tell us? We are ALL ALREADY UNDER CONDEMNATION before conversion through Jesus Christ. Hearing that isn't pretty or kind or lovely now is it? But it is the truth! The Gospel truth!

Yes. This is a bitter pill to swallow, but we ALL must take that 'medicine'. Proverbs 29:27 tells us why there is such animosity between believers and non-believers:

Proverbs 29:27 (NKJV) - An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, And he who is upright in the way is an abomination to the wicked.

Those who continue to "live in error" resent being told so.

2 Peter 2:18 (KJV) - For when they speak great swelling [words] of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, [through much] wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.

However, despite such animosity aimed towards Christians, Jesus instructs us to do the following:

Matthew 5:44 -
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Matthew 5:45 -
That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.


The "Master" book emphasizes that those who only trust God for a "wonderful plan" may feel terribly disillusioned when tragedy strikes, and may feel bitter toward God and those who gave them the so-called good news.

Please understand that I am not saying that God doesn't have a wonderful plan for each Christian's life because God works all things out for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). That fact is wonderful because no matter what happens to us as Christians, we can rejoice because of that promise. But we know that the promise does not guarantee that our earthly lives will be without suffering and trial and pain.

Jesus didn't shield the newly converted Saul of Tarsus from what was in store for him as a Christian. Instead, He said that He would "show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake" (Acts 9:16). We know how many of the disciples and apostles were persecuted and martyred for the sake of the gospel. I am not claiming that we need to be martyrs. What I am trying to convey is that if non-Christians respond to the gospel message only to improve their lives, they will be disillusioned when persecution comes and they may fall away from the faith.

I have run across dozens of people on various message boards who have done just that! They claim they were once Christians, but have fallen away from the faith...completely. I have attempted to witness to them and they mock, ridicule, debase, spew hatred and make all kinds of blasphemous remarks about our Lord. Could it have been that they were given the "happiness" gospel and were a false convert? It is a great possibility. In many of my conversations with them they admit to being deeply hurt by some occurance in their lives where they either blame God or feel that "God failed them".

Excerpt from "Master" book:

"God does have a wonderful plan for their lives - for their eternity. You know that if they repent and give their lives to Christ they will go to heaven after they have been burned to death or smashed on the sidewalk (or whatever method of death they endure). But sinners don't equate the promise of a "wonderful plan for your life" with eternity. They think of the here and now. "

But what will happen to the here and now?

James 4:14 - Whereas ye know not what [shall be] on the morrow. For what [is] your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

The "wonderful plan for you life" mantra given without the necessity of pointing out the teaching of the Law, hell and judgment and need for repentance leads to false converts who often look and act just like the unsaved world!

Excerpt from "Master" book:

"If they continue to live in lawlessness, they will not have a struggle with the world, the flesh, and the devil. If they are friends with the world, they will flow with it rather than against it, and therefore will not have tribulation in it. If they don't "live godly in Christ Jesus," they won't "suffer persecution" (2 Timothy 3:12), and they will not be hated for His name's sake, because their lives will be no different from those who are of the world. If they continue to live according to the flesh, they won't have to stuggle to deny fleshly desires. Neither will they wrestle against the devil. In fact, Satan will be pleased with what he sees.

Those who have come to Christ seeking happiness have "found religion" and think that by going to church on Sunday morning they are all right with God, thereby assuaging their nagging consciences."

They may have found happiness in their new lifestyle - but they haven't found new life in Christ! There is a huge difference!! The "happiness" gospel restricts people from hearing the message of sin, righteousness and judgment with the command to repent and flee from the wrath to come. If they don't repent of their sin, however, they will have a false conversion (Mark 4:16-17) and they won't become new creatures in Christ. They may 'name' the name of Christ, but they won't "depart from iniquity" (2 Timothy 2:19).

Now, I am not claiming that we are not to be happy. There is much joy in knowing Jesus Christ as Lord which goes beyond the human view of happiness. I know that I have much happiness in my life as a wife and mom and there are many times in my life where happiness has been a great part of my life. Because we need to present the gospel to those who believe that their lives are "perfectly happy", just as they are (without Christ), we need to present these people (as well as the hurting) with the proper message of the gospel. If we do not, then it is as though we have "lost our grip" on the biblical gospel. The gospel is a promise of righteousness, not a promise of happiness, and it therefore may also be offered to those who are enjoying the "pleasures of sin for a season."

Every one of us needs to be confronted by the spirituality of God's Law and understand that "riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death" (Proverbs 11:4). We ALL need to see our need of the Savior! If we preach the gospel of righteousness in Christ through repentance from sin, it applies to everyone!

Both hurting and happy people need to be shown their sinful state before God so they will seek after the righteousness that is in Christ.

*******Next: The Purpose of the Law and What Did Jesus Do?*******

8 comments:

Saltnlight said...

As I accepted Christ as my Savior and sat in the first real church after my conversion, the Holy Spirit gave me the greatest gift of all. Discernment.

The Pastor was up on the podium quoting some man named Hagan and Copeland. He gave similar messages each time I attended church, which was at that time every day the doors were open.

"All you need to do is have enough faith" You don't have to drive that beat up hunk of junk. Tell God what car you want and be specific. Color, sedan, convertible with radio and CD player etc." Then he would throw in the scripture that says "You have not because you ask not."

I remember going away thinking about people in other places who have not even food to eat. How could anyone go and tell these people this??? It was a while before I left that church because I was young, they had been nice to me and I didn't want to hurt the pastor and his wife. It got to be that I could no longer go there and I met with him and told him why but, it has been on my heart ever since, how many were mislead by this twisting of the Word of God.

Many of the people there truly believed that all they had to do was name their poison and claim it for their own and it would be so.

I have one or two of them who left there because they suffered much in losses of health and or wealth. They now attend no church and in fact really don't want to talk about God. Many others still go there today and still claim that if you don't have it's because of your lack of faith.

Saltnlight said...

I attended Alpha some time back and this dodging of words like sin or repentance was very apparent. It was very seeker friendly and cozy but also very ungodly in it's way of avoiding anything that needed to be confronted during it's meetings. People who were Roman Catholic were not told about Jesus not Mary being of the greatest importance. Many of them left there with the same ideas they had before they came to Alpha.
Nothing was ever cleared up about the things taught by RC leaders thus nothing got shifted to the diety of Christ and away from Mary. Actually there was much more but I can't even begin to recall it all.

I attended all of the nights but I felt as though something very important was being missed.

Thomas said...

Hi Christine,

I can say for myself I'm not offended by your Hell talk and the rest of it. I find it sort of amusing, sort of charming in a naive way. It's like your saying that I should believe in all these old folk-tales, not because they really make sense, but because some dude's gonna roast me in a pot if I don't. Plus, I'm evil, and this stuff is the only think that's going to fix me. The non-thought-out-edness of it all renders it completely inoffensive, to my view.

Well, you know, whatever. The only reason I mention this is because I've been reading the thoughts lately of people who have done a lot of thinking about Jesus and stuff, and boy am I impressed by their fancy brains! I've been reading this fellow named Kierkegaard, who wrote some really fly books about the rootedness of faith in despair, and the hopeless subjectivity of the human condition, and the relation between suffering and wisdom. It's some good stuff -- it kept me up all night thinking, which made me late for work the next day. You should check out "The Living Thoughts of Kierkegaard," which does a nice synopsis of the tormented Dane, and there's some brilliant elucidation by fellow smarty-pants Christian W. H. Auden. (I shouldn't say much about Auden, or you'd never open the book!) It's nice to read some thought-provoking explorations of the meanings of faith, and the necessity of the irrational. I can jive.

Anyway, just checkin' in with you, babe. I see you still got some issues with the gays. Don't worry, I'm chill with that. I get that sort of reaction all the time.

Peace out. Keep it toasty.

Christinewjc said...

Saltnlight,

That discernment we all learn from the Words of the Bible through the power of the Holy Spirit is what ultimately separates the "wheat from the tares". Without that, we could fall for anything that misinformed people could say about God's Word and what is truth. You immediately recognized what was unbiblical at that Alpha seminar. That's the value of knowing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, reading, studying and applying God's Word in our lives, and not letting outsiders/false converts attempt to "fool the very elect; if that were possible."

Matthew 24:24 - For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

Christinewjc said...

Thomas!

I was thinking about you yesterday, wondering how you are and where you've been. Long time no post!

I must admit that I am not familiar with Kierkegaard (but I have heard the name before) or Auden and their writings. But I will take a wild guess and assume that I wouldn't find their books in a Christian bookstore.

So tell me, what was it about their writings that kept you up all night reading? One comment gives me a hint:

Thomas: "It's nice to read some thought-provoking explorations of the meanings of faith, and the necessity of the irrational. I can jive."

Let me guess. Their writings reiterated your own fanciful idea that faith, especially Christian faith, is an irrational position?

About your comment regarding my "issues with gays." When I see parents rights trumped at the schoolhouse door you can bet I have issues.

It's not the gay community at large that bothers me, but it is the activists (including their supporters and their methods) who want to train down our nations' children and grandchildren in ways that are completely opposite the way that most parents want to train up their children regarding marriage and sexual mores that I object to.

Teaching kindergarten children in the gay activist mindset of moral relativism and in many cases, sexual perversion, is where I draw the line.

Christinewjc said...

Did a Google search on Kierkegaard and this about sums up his position:

"Christian dogma, according to Kierkegaard, embodies paradoxes which are offensive to reason. The central paradox is the assertion that the eternal, infinite, transcendent God simultaneously became incarnated as a temporal, finite, human being (Jesus). There are two possible attitudes we can adopt to this assertion, viz. we can have faith, or we can take offense. What we cannot do, according to Kierkegaard, is believe by virtue of reason. If we choose faith we must suspend our reason in order to believe in something higher than reason. In fact we must believe by virtue of the absurd."

Of course I don't agree with this assertion. Biblical Christianity is a reasonable faith that does not need to be relinquished to the thought of it being deemed "absurd".

Thomas said...

Howdy Christine,

It's sweet of you to think of me. I've been well, mostly avoiding the internet and soaking up the late-summer sun instead. At night I go out with my latest obsession: an eight-inch telescope I bought for myself, in order to gaze in wonder at all the little planets and stars that share the universe with us. Truly, a religious implement.

If they don't have Kierkegaard at your local Christian bookshop, you ought to find another. (I kind of get the feeling that I wouldn't find most of the authors I love at your average Christian bookshop. It's sad to think of all those empty rows; no Joyce, no Auden, no Byron, no Borges, no Byatt, no Dawkins, and no Blake. What else -- no Tolstoy? no Dostoevsky? no Kierkegaard?) Kierkegaard is considered to be one of the greatest of all Christian philosophers, and by that I mean no slight -- he was the founder of existentialism as well, and one of the great literary philosophers of his time. Anyway, his point was that faith cannot be compassed by reason, and that it cannot be conjoined with reason -- but that was by no means a reason to dismiss Christianity. He believed that one ought to make a "leap of faith" -- otherwise, a vital aspect of the human soul would be missing. It's not a point I can agree with, but it's one I find captivating nonetheless. Kierkegaard believe that if faith were to be a by-product of reason, it would lose it's value. He said, "If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. If I wish to preserve myself in faith I must constantly be intent upon holding fast the objective uncertainty, so as to remain out upon the deep, over seventy fathoms of water still preserving my faith."

Kierkey also believed that each individual most approach Christ using his or her individual religious genius; the mortal enemy of Christianity was "Christendom," the reigning bourgeois orthodoxy and conformity. The soul that has the law of God, but not the free poetic spirt of God, is properly speaking a soul in despair -- it is lost to God and lies dismembered, lacking a "self" of its own.

Anyway, enough with that. You said something about "teaching kindergarten children in the gay activist mindset of moral relativism and in many cases, sexual perversion..." and so forth. Yup, that's bad. Sexual perversion should wait until marriage, or college -- whatever comes first. Moral relativism is always bad. I'm a seventh-day born-again orthodox Kantian - can't you tell. In my opinion, sex education should wait until the kids are old enough to be interested in the subject matter, and then the teachers should stick to the uncontroversial truth -- teen pregnancy and STDs will ruin your life, and should be avoided at all costs -- and that the only 100% safe form of sex is masturbation. Try it at home, and you'll be too tired to get into real trouble.

Otherwise, education should stick to the important subjects: math, English, geography, and evolution. The question is, is our children learning?

Susan Smith said...

" If we choose faith we must suspend our reason in order to believe in something higher than reason." The god of "reason" is the downfall of many.

Before my deliverance by the Lord from more than 20 years of lebianism, I was told when I was a child and a teenager that I had a high IQ. Family and school officials told this fact and after joining the US Army I even went back to my high school and viewed my school records. By man's standards, this "fact" was true about my IQ.

I was not "pretty", but my intellect became my god. I believed for years that all I had going for me was a sharp and intelligent mind. I abused my brain greatly with alcohol.

During my deliverance from homosexuality and alcohol abuse, my greatest surrender to God was my mind and my ability to reason. I realize today when I rely on my own thoughts and intellectual abilities that I am walking in the flesh, not the Holy Spirt. There is NOTHING good in my flesh. He is my righteousness and He is my life today. He is no longer a PART of my life. My life is part of His. His thoughts are above my thoughts.

God has used the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise. And he has chosen the weak things of this world to shame the mighty.

Susan