There has been a serious attack on Christianity that has been coming from within the church. The Bible calls these kind of false teachers “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Postmodern, “relevant” teachers are saying that Christianity’s basic beliefs need to be rethought and brought into the 21st century. This attack showed itself again this morning as I listening to NPR this morning.
The report was on Brian McLaren’s book “Jesus, Reconsidered.” McLaren advocates a rethinking of Christianity. For the other side of the debate NPR interviewed Al Mohler. I am glad they picked someone who represents traditional Christianity, and not some liberal or right-winger.
Mohler pointed to the motives of McLaren and other such teachers. They are trying to be relevant. As McLaren himself said, today when a Christian goes off to college, chances are their roommate will be of a different belief system. “How can you condemns someone to hell who you have come to love?” he asks. Some statistics are also giving, saying that 2/3 of young people believe people other than Christians can go to heaven. Mohler says that Christianity is being lost for the sake of relevance.
I agree. The whole postmodern approach is tearing apart the church. Now first let me qualify what I mean by “Christianity” and “the church.” I do not mean what it has become – a building put up by human hands and taught with human wisdom, full of false gospels and false converts. I do not mean Christianity as a watered down version of Christ somehow coming to love and redeem us but leaving out the power of God to change our hearts. I mean faith in Christ Jesus as the Bible teaches (yes, literally), and I mean the church as the Bible says it is – the holy, spotless bride of Christ.
There must be a pure church, and that standard must exist in order to contrast it against any perversions of the gospel. Otherwise McLaren would be right, Christianity can be changed to suit our culture. But God transcends the centuries and cultures that come and go. God transcends fad doctrines and popular teachers. The message of the cross is timeless. The Bible says, “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” For the sake of cultural relevance these false teachers are rewriting the message of the cross.
Now I am not holding up some ultraorthodox view that says we should stick to tradition for tradition’s sake. I am not saying we should abandon our culture, burn the NIV Bible and build our houses without electricity to completely separate ourselves. I am not saying that. What I am saying is that the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t change. It is a message for our culture as much as it was when the Lord Jesus walked the earth.
They misunderstood his message too. They thought that he was going to be some kind of political leader who would overthrow an oppressive government. Or else they saw him as some miracle worker who could solve their maladies, ignoring that he could do more – forgiving their sins and saving their souls. This lesson we learned from the lame man. Jesus did not first heal him, but said, “Your sins are forgiven.” The leaders took offense and questioned his authority to do this. Then to prove his authority to forgive sin he also healed him, and he got up and walked.
Have we forgotten the power of our Lord? Have we made him out to be just another political figure, popular teacher, or magic trickster?
I tell you the truth, the church has prostituted itself for the sake of the wolves and their false gospels. Rather than serving the one who can forgive its sins, the church has turned away from God and followed these false teachers. Thus the church has become no church at all – no bride of Christ, no one to be united with God in perfection – but a whore.
Where is the true church of Christ? Where is the spotless bride? Where are the ones who follow the true and living God and his gospel of salvation? Where are the ones who believe that he will heal their black hearts, and not just their pocketbooks? Where are the ones who would rejoice in hearing that their sins are forgiven, regardless of whether their maladies are ever healed?
I don’t know about you, but I am tired of false gospels! I am tired of hearing people pervert the gospel of my Lord, the Lord who I love. He was and still is relevant.
The cross is not just a love story. It is a violent story of what it costs to be redeemed. And yes, blood does need to be shed, for “without the shedding of blood their is no forgiveness of sins.” There is no forgiveness of sins without the shedding of blood because sin has a cost, and that cost is death. Death exists because sin exists. But Christ paid the price so that death can be put to death just as sin can be put to death. And this death is not only on the day we die, but NOW as we walk with our God.
The Lord Jesus Christ didn’t stay dead either. He rose again on the third day. The postmoderns would have you believe that such a thing cannot happen, and that the resurrection is just another made-up fairy tale. It is not. “Without the resurrection you are still dead in your sin, and your faith is useless.” Death could not be put to death if Christ stayed in the grave. But he did not! He rose again on the third day, proving that he is God, Lord of all, the one who can redeem us from our sins, not a mere man but God made flesh for our redemption. The resurrection means that we too can come out of the grave of our sin and be born again. Only then can we truly become the spotless church. There can be no church where there is no death to sin.
Finally, Christ ascended back on high, again proving he is who he says he is. “And he seated us up with Christ.” This means that we are where Christ is and can continue to walk in victory over sin, saying no to it, and remaining holy in Christ Jesus.
Holiness is not this lofty ideal handed down to us in paintings and now shown to us on TV by visual effects of shiny white angels with golden halos. In fact angels can be dreadful beings, ones whom some men have trembled at the feet of when they are seen in their splendor. No, holiness is not that caricature of something beyond us. Holiness is given to us in Christ. It is definitely a standard, but one that is attainable. It is simply walking in faith the standard of purity that God has laid out for us. Without faith there is no holiness. The church today lacks holiness because it lacks faith in the full gospel of Jesus Christ – it only wants the forgiveness, or it only wants the temporal healing without the spiritual death, or it lacks the power or the knowledge of its power to walk in victory.
So what can we do? Pray. Fast. Weep and mourn. Wail and lament at the loss of our gospel. But do not stay there. Find the gospel again! Find what is real and true about what Jesus Christ did for us. We are not coming up on some random “holy week” akin to that of any other belief systems. Next week is Easter. We are celebrating salvation itself. Do not prostitute yourselves, and do not prostitute the gospel, for any reason!