Friday, January 16, 2009


Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."~ John 3:3

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. ~ Matthew 7:13-14

What is it that prevents a person from becoming a Follower of Christ?

No doubt, the mission of so many churches today is to reach the 'seeker' and the un-churched. Great efforts are made to understand what exactly the 'seeker' is looking for in a church.

Surveys are conducted to find out what it takes to get them into church. Research and marketing studies are used to determine the best methods for doing church. Many have grown tired of the traditional church and are desperately trying to change everything in order to appeal to the seeker.

Apparently, the Word of God is no longer interesting. The Gospel too offensive. Theology too boring. If church isn't entertaining, they simply won't come. Many popular books have been written to teach churches and pastors how to do church in a culturally relevant way so that people will like going to church. The successful model church today is constantly coming up with new ideas to align with the latest social trends in order to keep the people coming.

Despite the attention that so many popular mega-churches are getting, despite the huge turn-out of people and the record sales of catchy 'Christian' how-to books, the results of so many polls and studies are revealing a different story. The Emergent movement determined that everything must change. Well, things are changing but is it for the better?

Recent Barna & Pew research results show that just because someone claims to be a Christian does not necessarily imply that they believe everything about the Christian faith.

- 61% of Christians pick & choose from the beliefs of different denominations.

- Nearly 50% of Christians do not believe in hell.

- A third believe that Jesus sinned while on earth.

- Two-fifths don't feel that they have a responsibility to share their faith.

- 65% of Christians believe many religions can lead to eternal life.

- 29% of professing Christians believe salvation is based on what you do in life.

Even within some of the largest Christian churches in America, there are surprising results.

- 47% do not believe in salvation by grace.

- 57% do not believe in the authority of the Bible.

- 56% do not believe Jesus is the only way to God.

Instead of wondering why so many Christians have beliefs that contradict the Bible, isn't the bigger question, "Are they even saved in the first place?"

I think the answer is simple. We've stopped preaching the Word. We've softened the Gospel message and we've turned church into Burger King ("Have It Your Way").

We are reminded all throughout scripture that mankind is a wretched, self-centered being.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
~ Jeremiah 17:9

The things of God are offensive to the unregenerate person. They are ok with Christ's message of love but they really don't want to hear about sin, hell, repentance and the wrath of God.

These topics are often avoided in church so as not to offend the seeker. Theology is considered too boring or judgmental. It should come as no surprise then when we see the results of easy-believism church in America.

Many within the seeker-friendly churches argue that for too many years, the church was preaching a shallow, un-loving, judgmental Gospel. Unfortunately, there is a lot of truth in this to some extent. Instead of reaching out and demonstrating a Christ-like love in presenting the Gospel, some have attached works to salvation by focusing more on the rules than grace. Sadly though, the response has went to the other extreme and now we're seeing the results. People have forgotten that church is not about us. It's about Glorifying God.

"The grand design of God, from which He never has and never will swerve, is to glorify Himself: to make manifest before His creatures what an infinitely glorious Being He is." ~ A. W. Pink

The Law was given to show us our sinful condition; Not to keep us in line or enable us to work our way into Heaven. Love, grace and compassion should be evident in the lives of every believer. These should be the effects of the Gospel; Not the Gospel itself. Likewise, the highest act of honoring God is to share the good news of the Gospel to the unbelieving world. It's not enough to simply be kind or do nice things for people. This alone does not save a person just as going to church or reading the Bible does not save. The Holy Spirit saves when a person is humbled and their heart is broken over their sins before a Holy, Loving, Just God.

The responsibility of a Follower of Christ is first and foremost to glorify God...

“Whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.” ~ 1 Corinthians 10:31

Secondly, we should be sharing the Gospel and living a Christ-centered life that is a testimony to the world of the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. Our goal should not simply be to get as many people as possible into church. Nor should it be to lead people in a sinners prayer or get them to "Ask Jesus into their hearts". We are commanded to share the Gospel. The Holy Spirit does the rest. We need to be especially careful that we do not make compassion our goal. Acts of kindness and charity are to be the fruit of our salvation and not a substitute for the Gospel itself.
Church should be a place where God is glorified. Where His Word is preached and ALL of the focus is on Him; not us. It most certainly was not intended to be a place designed exclusively for the lost (seeker?) in order to make them feel comfortable. The church SHOULD be different from the world; not a trendy-copy where it's all about you.

Lastly, we should be striving individually and as a church to be transformed by the Word and led by the Spirit in all things in order that God is Glorified.

(Next: Part 2 "Love One Another")