CHRISTIANITY WITHOUT CHRIST?

Tim Keller reminds us that when we talk to people about Jesus, we must remember to preach Christ, not moralism.

It’s actually possible to talk about Christianity without Christ. Or else, it will be like sending a note without any significant content. Or worse, it will just be a blank note.

“In nearly every text of Scripture a moral principle can be found, shown through the character of God or Christ, displayed in the good or bad examples of characters in the text, or provided as explicit commands, promises, and warnings. This moral principle is important and must be distilled clearly.

But then a crisis is created in the hearers as they understand that this moral principle creates insurmountable problems. I describe in my sermons how this practical and moral obligation is impossible to meet.

The hearers are led to a seemingly dead end, but then a hidden door opens and light comes in. Our sermons must show how the person and work of Jesus Christ bears on the subject.

First we show how our inability to live as we ought stems from our forgetting or rejecting the work of Christ. Then we show that only by repenting and rejoicing in Christ can we then live, as we know we ought.”

I’D FEEL GOOD WHEN…

Growing up, I tried to be religious. “Tried” is the operative word.

I would go to church every Sunday.  Then every first friday, I would try to go to church.  I didn’t understand the Bible but I would carry it to school for Christian Living class.  I thought carrying it would make me a better “Christian”.

Even after I gave my life to Christ when I was 17, I just basically carried my religiosity over to my walk with God.

When I would meet the standards, I would feel good about myself to the point of pride and delight for  the human approval that would follow.

When I’d blow it, I’d feel bad; not because I offended God but because I messed up my ‘spiritual score sheet.’

This went on until I realized that the gospel wasn’t just for my salvation but also for my sanctification.

Listen to what Charles Spurgeon has to say…

“When I thought God was hard, I found it easy to sin; but when I found God so kind, so good, so overflowing with compassion, I smote upon my breast to think that I could ever have rebelled against One who loved me so, and sought my good.”

HAVE WE LOST OUR WAY?

I was speaking to a man one afternoon. Hearing him, I could figure that he was getting the filter for all his experiences from media – particularly movies and current TV series. He patterned his values from certain characters from specific movies and tv shows.

It’s interesting how we can get ‘discipled’ by our culture.

Bill Hull defines culture as “the belief systems of a society and its outworking of those beliefs through music, painting, writing, films and television.”

He says that the typical person today spends 8 hours on the job, 7 hours sleeping and nearly 5 hours absorbing media messages.

Media is discipling many today, both old and young. The media today is able to erode the moral base of our land, desensitizing you and me to what is sinful and blurring the line between right and wrong.

Hull further continues his thoughts,

​”The people sitting in the pew are products of television more than the Word of God. Their worldviews are not scripturally based; rather they are disciples of their culture. When the media mentions responsibility, they are not talking about moral responsibility, but about using contraceptives. Termination of pregnancy (murder) is the woman’s right; being sexually active (fornication) is all right as long as you practice safe sex; having an affair (adultery) is expected sooner or later in normal, uninhibited people…

​The Christian community is slipping away from moral absolutes. What the pastor declares rubs against the cultural grain. The Word of God is abrasive when clearly presented in the present atmosphere…”

Please don’t get me wrong. Media is not necessarily wrong. I’m actually using one right now. But the role of the church is to influence culture and not the other way around. If we let that happen, then we’re in trouble.

Jesus declares in Revelation 2, “You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.”