In case you haven’t been keeping up, we’re correcting our own false notions surrounding the good news of the gospel. If you’re interested, take a look at previous posts in this series. Specifically we’re dismantling, via God’s truth, some of our erroneous assumptions. Today we’ll expose and unpack three more false assumptions.
We grow in spiritual maturity by getting better at living the Christian life. Au contraire, friends. You and I are like dust. Apart from Jesus, we have nothing, we contribute nothing, and we are nothing (John 15:5). Our God is not making us better: He is making us new. In fact God is making us “nothing” along the way. The Apostle Paul said it to the Corinthian believers like this (First Corinthians 1:27-29): But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. It is in your and my becoming “nothing” that much is made of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that is God’s greatest desire. You and I don’t need to get “better” at living the Christian life. It isn’t even our life. It’s Christ’s. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20). That’s the beauty and wonder of the Biblical gospel.
The main problem in our country is the conservatives. Jesus told us to feed the poor, care for the sick, visit the imprisoned, side with the oppressed, and give voice to the voiceless. So what could possibly be wrong with taking all of my cues from the “Christian Left”? The same thing that’s wrong with taking all of my cues from the “Christian Right”! Our two major political parties in America share some common values, but – for the most part – the policies they advocate are at odds with each other. Attempting to attach complex issues to broad ideological labels can be exceptionally problematic, as many of society’s ills don’t fit nicely into only one ideological box. And, if our labels are overly broad, we can mistakenly jettison thoughtful discussion in favor of political groupthink. This is a particular danger for us as Christ followers, because we never want our message of the gospel to be mixed with the message of any political party. In the long run, that is nearly always a recipe for disaster. Do we remember the Pharisees? We must never forget that no people group ever has an absolute corner on virtue. Only Jesus has that.
The church should preach strong sermons on sin so that people will straighten up. Here’s the gaping hole in that way of thinking. Problems with a tree’s fruit are normally problems below the surface of the soil. We can’t see the lack of water, or the fungus, or whatever is the culprit – we can only see the rotten fruit. When you and I think about personal change, it’s easy for us to settle for behavior modification when what we really need is repentance (Matthew 3:8)! You see, just getting someone to change their behavior – which usually doesn’t work for that long anyway – doesn’t deal with the idols of that person’s heart. That person may not be changing to please God, but to please us. We may become very skilled at adjusting our behavior, or at convincing others to do the same, while completely disregarding the authentic gospel transformation which every one of us desperately needs. How does that relate to preaching? Unless the sermon makes a beeline to the Cross (I stole that line from Charles Spurgeon) – meaning that the content of the sermon is aimed ultimately at a totally new life in Christ – then that sermon can never yield an eternal harvest of righteousness.
The winds blew strong in Paducah today, beloved church family, but we shall not be moved. Our God is deeper still. Our roots in Christ are like those of an oak tree: only strengthened by buffeting. Strange as it may sound, as you and I are buffeted by life, Christ’s gospel just gets more and more beautiful.
Behold how beautiful His grace really is!