Showing posts with label Depravity. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Depravity. Show all posts

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Ready for Reformation

This evening in our time of family worship, we read Nehemiah 13 and some devotional remarks on it (found in this book). I wanted to share these powerful words:

One of the most striking evidences of sinful human nature lies in the universal propensity for downward drift. In other words, it takes thought, resolve, energy and effort to bring about reform.
People do not drift toward holiness. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith.

Reformation is something I've been thinking on a lot recently. As we read from Nehemiah, there were two thoughts going through my head: 1) I need to obey God's Word & 2) Our church needs to obey God's Word. In my own life I know that I will (and do) move in the wrong direction when I'm not purposefully striving for holiness and pursuing God. We sinful men & women are never treading water spiritually. We're either swimming upstream or we're being pushed downstream. So fight for it! Take the kingdom of heaven by force (Matt. 11:12)!

All this is true for the church, too. A church that is not purposeful in watching over its doctrine, holiness and practices will inevitably drift, and I'm afraid that many Southern Baptist churches have drifted. This is a drift that will take more than a 'revival' service to undo. This is a drift that demands nothing short of a full-fledged reformation.

I long for an Ezra/Nehemiah-like, God-sent, Spirit-led reformation! We need our membership rolls reformed. We need our preaching reformed. We need our worship reformed. We need our local church leadership reformed. We need our youth ministries reformed. We need our lack of prayer, lack of passion, lack of evangelism, lack of accountability reformed!

When I look at the biblical standards and then look at the average church, I see an enormous gap between the two. My generation has inherited a mess, which is why many of us are opting to just start new churches. Clean slate; no mess. I see the benefits. But before I walk away from the established church, I want to fight for reformation.

I'm encouraged to fight for at least two reasons. First, God is patient. He is looooongsuffering. Hallelujah! He knows that we're prone to wander, and He is faithful to bring us back. Second, reformation is what God does. The Christian life is reformation. Because sin is constantly attacking, a Spirit-led church is constantly reforming. And get this... if God gives us the grace to see our need, and if God gives us the grace to care about it, then why wouldn't God give us the grace to make it happen?

Go ye therefore and start a reformation!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Hell?

Good Morning America recently ran a story about an evangelical minister who rejected the doctrine of hell and lost his congregation. Bishop Carlton Pearson of Tulsa, OK has come to believe that a merciful God and eternal damnation cannot go hand in hand. In his emotion-invoking words, “How can you really love a God who is torturing your grandmother?”

Let me get this straight ‘Bishop’ Pearson…
*You don’t question the fairness of Jesus Christ suffering on the cross, but you do question the fairness of your family member suffering in hell.
*You don’t have a problem with the wrath of God being poured out on the guiltless, spotless, sinless Savior, but you can’t stand the thought of your sinful, guilty grandmother facing God’s wrath in hell.
*Your heart doesn’t recoil at the thought of the Son of God facing excruciating torments, but you take offense at the thought of a loved one facing the same torments.

If you believe that the Son of God can suffer for your sins, why is it so difficult to believe that YOU will suffer for your sins?

Here are a few things that Mr. Pearson does not understand:

1) The Arrogance of His Denial – Pearson used the grandmother example because we all love our grandmas, and we all know that little old ladies are nice and sweet. But we forget that we can be as sweet as pie all our lives and still be lost in sin. God isn’t interested in how nice we are, how well we played with others, or how much money we donated to the United Way. God wants us to humble ourselves before Him and admit that we are – even on our best days – prideful, selfish, wicked beings deserving of God’s righteous anger.

2) The Severity of Sin – Sin is twofold: Our outward actions & Our inward motives. That means that even when we’re doing “good” deeds, if our motives are wrong, it’s still sin. And every sin deserves God’s judgment. To say that God is wrong to judge us is a gross misunderstanding of the nature of sin and the offense it is to a Holy God.

3) The Justice of God – God must do what is right. It is His nature. If a sweet little old lady stole your identity and spent all your money, should the American justice system just smile at her and say, “It’s okay. We love you”? No! Put granny in jail! It’s the right thing to do.
Sending sinners to face their just punishment is the right thing to do. God would be unjust if He didn't.

4) The Mercy of God – You cannot understand the mercy of God without understanding the wrath of God. Doing away with hell does not make God seem more merciful. In fact, it does the opposite. If there is no hell, then what’s the big deal? From what is God saving us? Without the doctrine of hell, the doctrines of God’s love and mercy are cheap and superficial.

5) The Glory of God – All things are created to give God praise and adoration. When a human lives his entire life (even a ‘good’ life) refusing to give glory to God, it is the worst offense imaginable. A person who will not submit to Jesus Christ is a person who mocks, denies, and rejects the God for whom all things were created. This robs God of His glory! How is this not deserving of God’s eternal wrath?

I, like Mr. Pearson, tremble at the thought of hell. I cringe at the possibility that I have loved ones who are in hell suffering for their sins. I am horrified by the fact that there is eternal punishment for those not trusting in Christ.

And that is precisely why I preach it.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Who's To Blame?


I have been thinking through some things in light of the Virginia Tech tragedy. It seems to me that horrible events like these reveal the true nature of America. 9/11 certainly did. The War on Terror certainly has. These sorts of things open us up and show us what we're made of. As the dust from the VT massacre begins to settle, the campus community, the politicians, and the media are all asking, "Why?" -- and rightly so. But our answer to this question reveals much about who were are, and I'm afraid our resounding answers are weak & pathetic.

The day the shooting occurred, the media was immediately answering the question "Why?" by blaming it on the school officials and the police officers. "They should have responded sooner." "They should have sent an email sooner."

After blaming the authorities, the media used this as a way to blame the firearm business. Why did the VT tragedy happen? Because people can own guns in our nation. Does that make any sense? I totally support tough gun ownership restrictions, but how could a person look at what happened in Blacksburg, VA and think, "It's the gun's fault"?

One of the most disturbing and revealing answers to the "why" question was the therapeutic answer. We're told that Cho Seung-hui was 'mentally ill' and 'had issues' and was 'troubled.' We're told that this goes back to him being picked on as a child. Essentially, Cho was just another poor victim...like the the 32 people he murdered. Do you see how utterly disturbing that is? Yet that is exactly what the academic, psychological elites are telling us. (By the way, this is precisely the lie that the Mary Winkler jury believed and let her off with a charge of manslaughter.)

So why did this really happen? Who is really to blame? Cho Seung-hui. He planned this out. He thought this through. He purchased the weapons. He pulled the trigger. This was a young man who had fostered an attitude of resentment and hate for others and, ultimately, for God. Murder always reveals hatred toward God. Cho hated God for putting these people in his life. He hated God for not silencing the people who picked on him. He hated God for making him different than the other students. He held on to this hatred and self-pity for many years, turning it into a vicious idol... one that was certainly influenced by demons. This sin in the heart of Cho manifest itself on April 16, 2007. Cho is to blame, and his wicked, sinful nature is the reason.

You will never, never, never hear a psychologist or a news anchor or a politician say what I just said. They won't say it because our culture of blame and tolerance and therapy will not allow them to say it. We educated Americans have answers now that don't need God. Our answers are too smart to blame sin or Satan. Those things are unevolved and unenlightened. So we make up these other answers... these weak & pathetic answers. And we do it because it enables us to get off the hook when we are in trouble.

This is a very personal, daily thing. "I yelled at you because I am under a lot of stress." "I was rude to everyone at work because I'm having a bad day." We say these things! And we really believe that these answers excuse our sinful behaviors. Read this carefully: There is no excuse for sin. You & I are responsible. Even when we are picked on and treated unfairly and are having a bad day, we are still responsible for the way we treat other people. But we love to blame something else, someone else. Much to their disdain, the answers of the evolved, enlightened academic elites are proving that Genesis 3 is true. After falling into sin, Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the serpent. But who does God hold responsible? All of us.

Learn the lesson that God is showing us: Cho is to blame for his sin. You & I are to blame for our sin. But there is a way to dodge the blame...

"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2 Corinthians 5:21
"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed." 1 Peter 2:24

Pass the blame of your sin to the only one who can take it... Blessed Jesus.