Dusty Rubeck, President of CDF Capital wrote a column in its publication The Cornerstone. Among other points, he wondered “How will the church change in the decades ahead?”
Whatever the church changes—locations, programs, methods or preaching—it must never alter the eternal message of the Gospel....“that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ...” II Corinthians 5:19. Nor must that message be considered secondary or tertiary to programs or methods. It must be foundational to church life and ministry. Putting anything in its place disgraces the Savior who died to forgive our sins and rose again as Lord of the church. And he will hold accountable any preacher who betrays him by ignoring, downgrading or dismissing that message to make his appeal more acceptable.
The message of both Old and New Testaments is the same of both Moses and Jesus, of both prophets and apostles: God is always on the offensive against wickedness, never on the defense against its attacks. God has nothing to prove to sinful humanity, whatever claims we hide behind to excuse our unbelief and disobedience.
Whatever the younger generation of church leaders think, the message of the church doesn’t need to change, dare not change and will be subject to God’s wrath if we try to change it. Humanity must change. It must repent of its sins and be baptized for the forgiveness of its sins. It must then let its renewed self be “hidden with Christ in God” Colossians 3:3.
God will not excuse preachers who find an easy way for people to be religious without being Christian; to be church members without being converted from self-will to Spirit-filled, Christ-centered lives; to claim a spiritual experience while denying the elementary truths of Jesus Christ as God’s Only Begotten Son. –End Part I-
Harry Summers and W.R. Hawn combined their building aspirations and skills when constructing housing at Camp Pendleton, La Jolla, Clairemont and South Bay, California. Ready for a BIG project, they struck a deal with Lawrence and Donald Daley, who owned 6,000 acres of what had originally been the 17,763 acre Rancho San Bernardo land grant.
Since San Diego city officials wanted a reason to annex 50,000 acres near Lake Hodges, they expedited the passage of permits. In the early 1960’s they began building—first for seniors, then families. The first six months sold 250 houses ranging from $12,000 to $27,000.
The problem confronting the partners was attracting buyers to an area that had cows and rabbits as inhabitants; that was situated in open country between San Diego’s Kearny Mesa and Escondido.
They settled on “ease of a short commute!” They marketed San Bernardo as a 20 minute drive to downtown San Diego. Proving it posed a challenge. Which Summers undertook one night at 11 P.M. He drove the nearly-deserted 2-lane Highway 395 at speeds well beyond posted limits. San Diego U-T, 6/27/18. He proved his point, but only by specious means.
Which no New Testament writer ever found necessary when recording the life of Jesus Christ. As this writer has repeatedly demonstrated in his series Their Own Best Defense, the Gospels and Epistles in calm understatement recorded the life of Jesus. They could write in such reserved language by him being so naturally outsized. They could write in common words by him being so Colossal a Person. Their literature could be written in everyday Greek by him being every word in everyman’s culture, world-wide, forever and ever. His life exceled all efforts to explain him. His Glory, revealed only once in ministry, so evidently shone through his face, his actions, his behavior, his love, his teachings, his works that it took only simple words to record his impact. He needed no one to “doctor” his personal, method or message!
Jesus warns every generation to avoid the mistake his made: seeking to understand the nexus between sun and sky on weather by paying no attention to spiritual issues that forecast God’s work in history. His warning has gone unheeded. American society, not alone in its fixation, but notoriously committed to it, devotes itself to nature and its creatures; to creation and its environment; to ocean depths and mountain heights; to fertile prairies and desiccated deserts. We have a finesse in these studies denied other generations.
Which is overshadowed by an amazing ignorance of spiritual problems that doom our culture. We seek peace with creation by waging war on the Creator. Do we understand the deadly violence building in Israel? The ongoing tension between Israel and the Palestinians/Islam/Iran? Relationships always in ferment, bubbling like mud pots, warning of lethal subterranean fires beneath? The stresses build to a breaking point, then fracture into war. All the time hiding the hidden forces that will one day be a war of annihilation, threatening Israel’s future but concluding with the destruction of her enemies?
Or do we understand the result of surrendering to the demands of unsaved mortals? That it has produced increasing immorality rampaging through society, trampling Biblical values into the dust as it seeks acceptance of all practices, however aberrant; and all behavior, however wicked?
Do we really believe God doesn’t care? Or God is powerless before us? Or God is afraid to intervene lest even more people refuse to believe in and obey him? Can we be that hardened, that wicked, that stupid?
These are our days: “When the wicked rise to power, people (Christians) go into hiding”.... “....when the wicked rule, the people (Christians) groan.”) Adapted from Proverbs 28:28, 29:2. But don’t be deceived. There’s also a result IN History: “When the wicked thrive, so does sin, but the righteous will see their downfall” Proverbs 29:16. Christians, Sursum Corda. Lift up your hearts, for your redemption draws near.
In Matthew 16:1-4 Jesus levelled a blistering accusation against the leaders of Israel. They could tell the day’s weather by looking at the sky. They couldn’t understand the change he brought to history by living among them. That problem only burgeoned in the centuries after him. And in the 20th and 21st centuries became international.
While the classification of the animal kingdom is as ancient as 1500 B.C., Leviticus 11 leaves no doubt God ordered Israel to distinguish between clean and unclean animals in their diet. He was always central to all Hebrew life and its activities.
Our society instead eliminates God and exalts the environment and its creatures. A Parade Magazine article, June 24, 2018, highlighted our national parks. It covered the spectrum: from the quietest to the driest; where you could see the most birds, including the smallest owls in the world, so cute they’re “almost painful”; where a broad range of wildlife existed, including bears; where you could see the brightest stars, etc.
So enamored are we of nature that we call attention to kindness to creatures: a mother duck leading her brood across a busy road, everyone stopping to permit it. Or, in Virginia, a rattlesnake crossing an intersection had the privilege of a cop stopping traffic both ways until it cleared. San Diego U-T, 6/24/18.
We think nothing of it when policemen put their lives on the line to protect the public—as happened in San Diego College area Saturday night, June 23, 2018. A violent criminal shot two officers when they entered his condo. Fortunately, neither suffered fatal wounds. In the mind of the public, cops are expected to die if necessary when confronting bad guys. It’s in their job description. But “oh how swell” when they unexpectedly protect the creatures.
Is there so much fascination with creation that we have no interest in appreciating God, the Creator? Will we continue to think of creation as an end in itself rather than God’s handiwork to make living on earth pleasant, not just survivable? And will we never stop to think that, at God’s command, all that’s here will one day disappear? -End Part I-
Yesterday, Thursday on June 21, Summer began. The longest day of the year. One of the longest waits in my life. Nearly 5 hours at DMV—the most broken of all government bureaucracies. Just to get the right to drive Californian streets and freeways. Does it make sense? You wait 4 ½ hours--wait now...standing around...passing the time...talking with others equally immobilized by government. Then, after 4 ½ hours, you take a computer test that took 3-4 minutes! Does that make sense to anyone but a government employee? And I heard one of them complain over the DMV’s procedures. He also said only the people can change them. The DMV won’t listen to their employees.
Then there’s illegal immigration into America. Illegal, understand...outside the law, understand...breaking the law, understand. And liberals think America should welcome people who flout the law—when even law-abiding immigrants bitterly criticize those who ignore regulations just so they can flee poverty-stricken countries.
* * * * * *
Which leads to a last thing that make no sense. Why should America be the country that serves as an excuse for Mexico and nations farther south NOT to make changes in government policies to keep people there? The Roman Catholic Church is the enemy of its people. They callously allow the leaders of their nations to keep most of the money in the oligarchy, including the church curia! Because the Catholic Church won’t make changes to improve the daily life of its people, is America obligated to protect the Church from its own wickedness? Does that make sense to any but a liberal Democrat, Mexican aristocrats and the Roman Catholic hierarchy?
Increased knowledge has become an asset in medical diagnosis and treatment. But knowledge of the genetic code has revealed the existence only of longer, not eternal, life. It hasn’t always allowed longer life to be active, carefree and independent. It has developed a monstrous industry of health care based on increasing government subsidies.
Should Christians, knowing that Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the grave offers a full life now, John 10:10, and everlasting life beyond the end of history, surrender Biblical knowledge to trust ourselves to medicine or technology?
Movies, books, television shows, and even sermons rely on emotion to attract and maintain interest. Without denying or diminishing the usefulness of emotion, God’s Word subordinates it to intellectual stimulation. It can never be true that the less we know, the better. Nor is it true that little knowledge increases trust in God and much only independence from God. That it often happens doesn’t constitute proof that it must. It’s instead disproved by the presence of brilliant minds in history, including today, filled with both belief in Christ and masterful knowledge of one’s interest.
A Christian’s Bible knowledge should always exceed his emotional experience. Only if the former exceeds the latter can our faith be anchored in God’s Word, not our feelings.
Personal experience, like the human heart producing emotion, is deceptive and can be corrupt, as Jeremiah said in 17:9. Examples of human emotion in the Bible are numerous—high or low, delight or despair, excitement or dread. But Psalm 119 exalts God’s Word, as the basis of the believer’s life.
Bible knowledge will always lead to deeper faith and more certain confidence in God. Only it leads to intellectual and emotional maturity. Only it protects us when emotions fail us. Only it leaves us absolutely sure of God when life circumstances seem to deny either his existence or his concern for us.
The finale of this series considers the basic difference between the church growth and Biblical models in reaching the lost. The church growth begins with human need. The Bible begins with God. The church growth intends to have the same message, but finds it harder to defend since human need—not God’s word—drives the approach. While Jesus often met human need, he never changed his message, whatever method his teaching used.
The church growth model puts unsaved humanity in charge. “If you start with us, you have to figure the best way to reach us, interest us, keep our interest, convince us that you have what we need or want at any particular time and, hardest of all, convict us of our need to believe God is the answer.
To eliminate human input, Jesus always started with God, persevered in staying with God and used miracles simply as an example of his authority to use his approach. Jesus said that God knows what our basic need is and won’t be deterred from it by our clamoring for things we want.
Thus, Jesus came as Savior because our basic need is to be forgiven. He came as Lord because he has the Right to order our lives because his Perfect sacrifice can forgive the whole world.
Jesus said that God knows how to interest us and satisfy us and provide for us, but it all begins with self-denial that repents of sin and receives baptism for forgiveness of sin.
Christianity’s ship of state has been run on the rocks by a generation of preaching seeking easy ways to influence the lost and encourage the saved, changing goals and procedures when nothing works as planned.
All the while the apostle Paul gave the solution: Preach the Gospel, Romans 1:16-17, because it is the righteous Power of God that creates faith in sinners that leads to their being convinced, leading to being converted, leading to repentance and baptism. In short, and mark it well; in short, and there is no long, only preaching Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord can raise the tide and re-float Christianity’s ship of state. And her guns can blast the myths men have erected to keep from admitting their sins, Christ’s Saviorhood and his right as Lord to direct their every daily activity.
We want to do it all for God in our way. God says he’s already done it all his way. And all we need do is preach the Gospel as he revealed it in Jesus Christ. –Fini-
Luke 14:25 tells that large crowds traveled with Jesus. And how did he respond? “....turning to them he said”: if we come to him wanting to be a disciple, all allegiances in life must be considered expendable.
Not what we would hear in a church running thousands a week-end; and not in many churches running far less each Sunday.
Matthew 13 has the Long Day of parabolic teaching. After standing in the crowd listening to them, and perhaps hearing questions in the crowd about his methodology, his disciples asked Jesus, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” 13:10 But that didn’t bring a change in his method.
The purpose of baptism is one of many Bible truths Christians have turned into a matter of opinion instead of immutable truth. However, and a point that demands attention, being influenced by what we think people want to hear is one reason we’re no longer impacting culture. When we began thinking people didn’t want to hear certain absolute or troubling truths; when we determined to stop saying them, or saying them in such non-offensive ways they couldn’t take umbrage, we lost our spiritual authority. When we make ourselves, or the lost, interpreters of Bible truth—after all, God knows what he meant—the Holy Spirit stops empowering us to convince and convert the lost to salvation and the saved to stronger discipleship.
If we return to saying, “God says it, that settles it, no matter what we believe,” we’ll again be able to convict our unguided, misguided society. Which presently thinks, by not being challenged to listen whenever Jesus speaks, on whatever subject he addresses, it has the right to develop a satisfying personal theology and philosophy. –End Part V-
This writer criticized Sport columnist Mark Zeigler’s suggestion that the National Anthem not be played before pro sports events. That ridiculous idea placates a few pro malcontents at the expense of offending millions of Americans.
The idea has an even deadlier impact on Bible truth. In a society that considers itself free from Biblical absolutes, many religious people of all faiths believe Jesus was a good man, but not God the Son. Shall Christians blaspheme him to satisfy world religionists?—as a Wycliffe official suggested. He wanted to eliminate Christ as the Son of God because it offended Muslims.
So? That’s their problem, not ours. We’re not going to reduce Jesus just to make them comfortable. Jesus didn’t stop proclaiming himself God’s Son because it offended his contemporaries. New Testament Christians, facing the same problem, didn’t stop preaching Jesus as God in the Flesh to please Jews in the Empire.
Then there’s the problem of baptism’s purpose. Is it for the forgiveness of sin, or some lesser purpose? Some suggest it isn’t worth a debate separating Christians. Instead, take refuge in the idea that God knows what baptism’s purpose is, even if we don’t. Nibble that theological deceit. Never digest it.
Because there are many things God says about himself and the Christian life that people don’t believe: that Jesus is the Only way to Heaven for one; that self-denial is the basis of discipleship for another; that holiness in the Christian life is the sine quo non of discipleship is a third. And so on.
On no Biblical truth can we draw the line saying it doesn’t matter what we believe SINCE God knows its truth. He has never allowed a divorce between what he SAYS and we Believe and Obey. The Bible nowhere allows us to take any position we please.
That’s flagrant heathenism. That’s unhesitating humanism. Each person then becomes his own deity. –End Part IV-
The problem of removing unnecessary obstacles to evangelism is: “What constitutes unnecessary?” And, equally important, “Who decides what’s unnecessary?”
For example, people resent being called sinners before God. They don’t mind calling chocolate a “sinful pleasure.” They do deny greed, lust, ambition are sinful. Shall Christ-honoring, Spirit-filled Christians stop using the term as a means of reaching unsaved people—I believe one euphemism is “pre-Christian” people. Why don’t we use “not far from kingdom” people? Jesus did. That would be more accurate as a description of their state. “Pre-Christian” may mean a lot of things, as one interprets the word. But “not far from kingdom” means a continued removal from the kingdom that needs to be overcome.
But why would they see the need of being forgiven if they don’t think they’re sinners lost from God? What kind of church member would they make if they were baptized? Jesus said that those whose “many sins have been forgiven...love much” Luke 7:47. How much love will be devoted to Jesus if we don’t think we’re sinners saved by him? What kind of discipleship results if a person is baptized as a church tradition, not for the forgiveness of many sins?
In our rush to influence people for Jesus, don’t skip where he started to get to a subject less offensive to the very sinners he died to save. Let’s at least be faithful to what he demands, and take our chances with rejection. Better to offend the unrepentant sinner than the all-forgiving Lord whose claims are eternally true. –End Part III-