Jesus and Being Better!

ImageMuch of preaching today centers on moral improvement, healthy relationships, better parenting, wiser dating, better marriages, less stressful workplaces and financial responsibilities. And many think that is exactly what the Bible, Christianity, and the church should be developing.

They would not argue that we are to focus on Christ but let’s focus on Christ as it pertains to these areas of human betterment. But there lies the problem!  If you focus on Jesus it makes those areas impossible to address.

This is what I mean. Jesus wasn’t about moral improvement but he was about substitution. He was about dying in our place because we were condemned and had not hope in ourselves. He didn’t have many relationships while he was here. In fact, the very people who knew him best rejected his claim of deity and He was so hated and despised that they crucified him. He was not married, so we can’t look to his marital prowess.  He loved children but had none of his own, therefore we have no concrete evidence of his parental skill. He was on a mission to preach the gospel but he did not have a job he had to perform everyday. How would Jesus deal with an inflexible employer or unruly co-workers, we don’t know.  Jesus didn’t have a car, a house, credit cards, electric bills, water bills, and the like. He went through his life with little possessions and few financial responsibilities.

But He was the Son of God. The Christ! The Anointed One! The Messiah!  He came and he lived a perfect life. A life without sin in thought and deed. He perfectly obeyed His father. He went to the cross to absorb the wrath of God that we deserve. He paid the debt owed for our sins. He arose the third day, his sacrifice accepted and our justification secure. He currently intercedes for his people at the right hand of the Father and he is coming back to gather his people from the four corners of the earth, defeat every foe and establish his everlasting kingdom. Why don’t we preach that?

Do Christians improve morally, have healthy relationships, become better parents, wiser in dating, have better marriages, deal with stressful workplaces, and become financial responsible? In most cases, yes. Not because of a set of do’s and don’t that are now put into action. But because the law has crushed thoughts of self-improvement and the good news of the gospel has shown what humanity could not do, Jesus did do. And now it is Christ that lives in the believer and progressively is making them more like Christ.  And as we become more like Christ we become more Godly citizens, friends, parents, spouses, and workers.  But we must focus on Christ—who he is and what he has done and know that He who started a good work will complete it. May God help us to abandon our perceived needs and may God cause us to desire to be holy as he is holy.

The bottom line is that the Bible, Christianity, and the church is not about us but it is about God and his glory!  It’s not about Jesus making me better its about Jesus beingbetter!

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4 Disturbing Trends in the Contemporary Church!

ImageMichael Horton gives us some points of concern for the church today:

According to several studies, American evangelicals generally do not know what they believe and why they believe it. Consequently, most share with the wider culture a confidence in human goodness and a weak view of the need for God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ. According to these reports, most evangelicals believe that we are saved by being good and that there are many ways of salvation apart from explicit faith in Jesus Christ.

Here are a few of the disturbing trends that need to be checked and reformed in contemporary church life:

1. We are all too confident in our own words

We are all too confident in our own words, so that churches become echo chambers for the latest trends in pop psychology, marketing, politics, entertainment, and entrepreneurial leadership. We need to recover our confidence in the triune God and His speech, as He addresses us authoritatively in His Word.

2. We are all too confident in our own methods

We are all too confident in our own methods for success in personal, ecclesial, and social transformation. We need to be turned again to God’s judgment and grace, His action through His ordained means of grace.

3. We are all too confident in our own good works

We are all too confident in our own good works. We need to repent and be brought again to despair not only of our sins but of our pretended righteousness.

4. We are all too enamored of our own glory

We are all too enamored of our own glory, the kingdoms that we are building. We need to be brought back to that place of trust in Christ where we are deeply aware of “receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken” (Heb. 12:28), because God is building it for His own glory, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it.

Only as we turn our ears away from the false promises of this passing age to God’s Word, to His saving revelation in Christ as the only gospel, and to the glory of the triune God as our only goal, can we expect to see a genuine revival of Christian discipleship, worship, and mission in the world today.

 

 

The Friendliness of Sin!

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A great quote from Tim Challies on the deceptiveness of sin:

“Sin makes so many promises. Sin promises joy, it promises fulfillment. Sin promises to be your friend. When you first meet a new friend you reveal only little bits of who you are, what you believe, what is important to you. But over time, if that friendship is to grow, you need to reveal more and more of yourself, you need to open yourself up. Friendship grows out of the vulnerability of allowing another person to see who you really are beneath the polite exterior. Sin asks you to give just a little bit more of yourself to it every time. Just a bit more. Just a bit more after that. But over time sin comes to own you. It comes to know everything there is to know about you. And then it stabs you in the back and laughs with glee as you are left sputtering and humiliated and destroyed. It laughs as your marriage is destroyed, as your church is shamed, as your friends are betrayed. That’s the kind of friend it is. This is what sin does. This is who sin is. Sin is the friend who is so much worse than any enemy.”