Without a doubt, the church languishes as it does today because many, if not most, of professing believers in America are not even saved. Does that sound harsh?
Well, consider this: many today have bought into a mind set that allows them to live any way they want and still claim to “belong to Jesus.”
But John said, “If we claim to have fellowship with the light (to be a believer, a follower of Jesus, a Christian), and yet walk in darkness (to live like the world), we lie (in claiming to have fellowship with the light) and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:6).
Ouch. Want to know more? Then keep listening.
The following is a study of the Lost in the Church today.
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Without a doubt, the church languishes as it does today because many, if not most, of professing believers in America are not even saved. Does that sound harsh? Well, consider this: many today have bought into a mind set that claims to allow them to live anyway they want and still claim to “belong to Jesus.” But John said, “If we claim to have fellowship with the light (to be a believer, a follower of Jesus, a Christian), and yet walk in darkness (to live like the world), we lie (in claiming to have fellowship with the light) and the truth in not in us” (1 John 1:6).
Also, many today flat out refuse conformity to the image of Christ. They desire to model their life after the world and all its lusts and have a “form” of godliness but not power. Why? Simply because they have been told that salvation consists of nothing more than coming to church on Sunday, praying the “sinners prayer” years ago in VBS, or being baptized, and have no clue as to the radical change that takes place when regeneration occurs in a person.
To illustrate this point, the following is from Rick Warren’s book, the Purpose Driven Life (arguably one of the most popular Christian books in the last 40 years). After spending two paragraphs condensing the Gospel into a simple “Believe and Receive” formula, the Purpose Driven Gospel Presentation moves to the closing prayer of repentance and faith.
From the pen of Rick Warren:
“Wherever you are reading this, I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity: ‘Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you.’ Go ahead.
If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God! You are now ready to discover and start living God’s purpose in your life.”
From there, the reader is instructed to email Rick and receive a free booklet from his ministry.
No repentance. No recognition of the Lordship of Christ. Nothing. For me, it’s Gospel Lite.
“Same great taste, but less filling.”
There are three great musts in the Gospel of John.
1. You must be born again – John 3:7.
2. The Son of Man must be lifted up – John 3:14.
3. Those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth – John 4:24.
The first two usually don’t cause us any problems. After all, what Christian would not agree that we must be born again?
But the third one, the spirit and truth one… ah, that’s where it gets a bit more difficult. What does Jesus mean? What is spirit and truth? And why is this one of the musts?
For answers, keep listening.
The following is a study of John 4:19-24.
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Guilty as charged.
No minister is worthy of his calling. Every preacher is vulnerable to the charge of hypocrisy. In fact, the more faithful a preacher is to the Word of God in his preaching, the more liable he is to the charge of hypocrisy. Why? Because the more faithful a man is to the Word of God, the higher the message is that he will preach. The higher the message, the further he will be from obeying it himself.
From The Holiness of God by RC Sproul.
The following is from RC Sproul, Jr. It is a wonderful reminder that sometimes God, in His sovereignty, has plans for us that we didn’t ask for nor desire. But they are His plans, nonetheless. Also, as a bit of background, RC’s wife has been suffering with a debilitating illness for quite some time.
Doing Great Things
We first learned that my little girl Shannon would always be a little girl, when we discovered about her first birthday that she was profoundly disabled. My father, a deeply compassionate man, asked how I was handling the news. I told him that I had been preparing for this moment all my life. If anyone should be able to rest in the sovereignty of God it is me. The sovereignty of God is the cornerstone of Reformed theology, which theology I have been schooled in from my youth by one of its greatest living proponents.
The sovereignty of God, rightly understood, was the very core of my father’s best known work, The Holiness of God. The doctrine came front and center in his next book, Chosen by God. I was a young man when those books were first published. Like many others I ate them up, drank them in, and like too many young men, spat out their wisdom with precious little grace and care. I reveled in God’s sovereignty, and delighted in nothing more than to argue for, to defend, to proclaim that sovereignty.
That all changed, however, when I read still another book by my father, this one born of a family hardship. Surprised by Suffering begins with the still-born birth of my niece, Alissa. From there the book explores not just the truth that God ordains our suffering but why. The point that has stuck with me over the years was this – suffering isn’t something that happens, nor it is just something God permits. It is instead a vocation, a calling. God does not merely say, “I’m going to make you go through this.” Instead He says, “It is My desire for you that you should go through this. Follow Me.”
All of us, when we are brought into the kingdom, in joyful gratitude for the grace of God, want to do great things for the kingdom. Having been rescued by His glorious grace, we want in turn to rescue others, to serve the body, to proclaim the Good News. God has called us to do just that. He calls out heroes who take the message to strange and foreign lands. He calls out pastors who feed the sheep. He calls out teachers, like my father, who explain to the broader body the fullness of the gospel. Some, however, He calls to suffer.
My wife, for this part of His story, is called to suffer. Her role right now is to do this great thing for the kingdom – to be Jesus to us, so that we might be Jesus to her. She is Jesus to us because as we serve her, we remember His promise, that serving the least of these is serving Him (Matthew 25). We, in turn, are Jesus to her, precisely because the church is His body. When we pray for her, she rests in Jesus’ arms. When we bring a meal, she tastes Jesus feeding her. When we dry her eyes, she feels Jesus wiping away her tears.
Hers is not an easy calling. It is, however, a great one. Being Jesus means walking the via dolorosa.
How blessed I am to walk that road with her, and with Him.