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Assumptions - Part 7

We are nearing the end of our mid-week messages on "8 Assumptions Pastors Can't Make in a Post-Christian Era." These last two may surprise you. Today we come to #7 which is: 

A Recognition of the Need for Salvation

This seems so basic for us but remember, we are talking about a "post-Christian culture." The author of the article, Dr. Karl Vaters, says, "If there's no understanding of sin, [last week's assumption] there's no need for salvation...Instead of knowing they are lost, people feel lonely and disconnected. An awareness of sin has given way to a sense of hopelessness. And self-discovery has replaced a desire to be saved."

We are introduced to our need for salvation on the first page of the Bible! Our first parents broke the one and only commandment they had been given. From their standpoint God was asking too much, forbidding too much, to impose one simple commandment. And as the old hymn says, "In Adam's fall we sinned all." We lost Paradise and haven't been able to get past the cherubim with flaming swords ever since. We need help. We need salvation!

In the introduction to John Owen's classic, The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, J.I. Packer supports this concern when he distinguishes between the old gospel and the "new gospel." The latter, he says, is exclusively "concerned to be helpful to man, to bring peace, comfort, happiness, satisfaction—and too little concerned to glorify God. The old gospel was helpful too—more so, indeed, than is the new—for its first concern was always to give glory to God. It was always and essentially a proclamation of Divine sovereignty, in mercy and judgment, a summons to bow down and worship the mighty Lord on whom man depends for all good...Whereas the chief aim of the old was to teach men to worship God, the concern of the new seems limited to making them feel better."

We are a church that preaches and teaches the old gospel. As Paul makes clear in Galatians, the new gospel is no gospel at all! We all need to be saved from our sins. Jesus has paid the price and only His blood, received by faith, can get us past the cherubim.

Posted by Jim Bachmann

Assumptions - Part 6

After their first visit to our church several months ago, some of our newer members told me that it was the first time they had heard the word "sin" in a sermon in several years!

Pastors are doing a tremendous disservice to their congregations when they de-emphasize or ignore the Biblical teaching on the reality of sin. And yet the problem is widespread. For example, if you visit other churches I'm sure you will notice that corporate prayers of confession are seldom included in the worship service.

This brings us to Assumption #6 in our series of "8 Assumptions Pastors Can't Make in a Post-Christian Culture" which is:

An Understanding of the Reality of Sin

The author writes, "Like sexual ethics [assumption #5], the idea of sin is increasingly passe for most people."

I don't believe this is a new development however. Go back to the story of the rich, young ruler (Mark 10) and you will find a man who genuinely felt he had kept the entire law of God since he was a youth. By the end of the conversation however, he had learned that he had failed to keep the very first law! He had failed to love God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. He loved his money and therefore went away sad when the Lord told him to give it all away.

Martin Luther once said, "The ultimate proof of the sinner is that he doesn't even know his own sin." He's right. The denial of sin only proves the reality of sin. It's been mankind's problem all along. Eve blamed the serpent and Adam blamed Eve. Actually Adam blamed God because of "the woman You gave me." But neither acknowledged their sin. They just tried to shift the blame.

If there is no sin we deceive ourselves, said John. If there is no sin, Jesus wasted His blood. On the contrary, G.K. Chesterton was right when he said, "Original sin is the only doctrine that has been empirically validated by 2000 years of human history."

Posted by Jim Bachmann

Assumptions - Part 5

This week we consider Assumption #5. Perhaps, though, I should refresh your memories about the first four! Here are the first four of the "8 Assumptions Pastors Can No Longer Make in a Post-Christian Culture":

1. Biblical Literacy
2. Frequent Attendance
3. Consistent Giving
4. Political Alignment

Assumption #5, according to author Karl Vaters in the December 2017 issue of Christianity Today is:

Awareness of and Agreement about Biblical Sexual Ethics

The author says, "As ministers we can spend a lot of time teaching, debating, and arguing the finer points of sexual ethics, from gay marriage to premarital sex to gender identity and more. But when someone comes to faith in Christ today not only can we not assume they will want to follow a Biblical moral code, many will have no idea there is one to follow."

There is a lot of sexual sin and brokenness in our culture today, particularly among young people. We have paid a steep price for the sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s. But the stunning development of late is the sexually progressive agenda driven by so many evangelical pastors! Pastors seem more focused on welcoming, endorsing, embracing, and legitimizing the unrepentant LGBTQ community into their churches than preaching the blood of Christ. Twenty to thirty years ago this was not an issue. But the progressives are relentless and aggressive, determined to obtain the church's blessing, and not at all reluctant to denounce the "intolerant" churches who don't jump on the bandwagon.

I find the Biblical teaching to be simple and clear. Homosexuality is a sin. Same-sex attraction or desire is also a sin, even if it is not acted upon. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus made it clear that even our desires must be in conformity with His will. Am I unloving to say so? On the contrary, telling the truth is the most loving thing we can do. We must speak the truth in love.

Having said this however, don't misunderstand me: the LGBTQ community is always welcome in our church. So are murderers and thieves and sinners of every stripe! We don't vet people at the front door. I wish nothing more than for them to worship Almighty God with us. I welcome the opportunity to explain "the way of God more accurately", as Priscilla and Aquila did for Apollos (Acts 18). And if they are repentant they are most welcome to profess their faith, become full communing church members, and one day perhaps rise to leadership in the church. As Augustine said, "We are all washed in the same blood."

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore!
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and pow'r.

Come ye weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you're better,
You will never come at all.

Posted by Jim Bachmann