Challenge of the day: Speak Life (With Grace and Mercy) in the Face of Certain Death.

I wish I could say that not tithing the rightful tithe is no big deal. I wish I could say that God doesn’t take it that seriously and that we don’t need to repent of our sin of omission. 

I wish I could say that crude jokes and locker room talk about what men would do to certain women is harmless. I’d like to brush it off as just boys being boys and no one is hurt by it. 

I wish I could say that Monday through Saturday idolatry is no big deal, that the way we worship our jobs and our money is just what we do six days out of the week.

I wish that I could tell the lustful desires in the hearts of men that looking is fine, that their thoughts are okay, and that it’s just a natural desire that God gave you and therefore it’s nothing you need to repent of. 

I wish I could say to all those living in sexual immorality that you were born this way, God made you this way and that the Bible does not call it a sin. 

I wish I could say to the drunkards, the idolaters, the adulterers, the thieves, the greedy, and the con artists that what they’re doing and how they’re leading their lives is just what they have to do to get by. 

The truth is: I can’t say any of those things and still call myself a follower of Jesus. 

The truth is: I can’t say any of those things and still be considered as following the teachings of the Bible.

The truth is: I could say those things and the world would accept me with open arms and embrace my acceptance and tolerance and my willingness to coexist. 

The truth is: I could say those things and never call sin for what it is, but I would be living a life of heresy. 

There’s a growing church in the western world and in this church there are no sermons on sexual purity, no teachings about repenting of sin, no pastors who will lovingly call out the sins of the people, no need to confess and be accountable, no words spoken that might offend the diverse congregation.

This church is called “The Emergent Church” and it’s growing because millenials who grew up in church want to worship God but they want to do it in a place that doesn’t use the word sin unless it’s used to say that their parents and grandparents were the sinners. That it was generations past who practiced bigotry, intolerance and hatred. It was the years and years of past Republican presidents who marginalized everyone who wasn’t white. It’s the fault of baby boomers and generation X’ers who messed up the world and that the new crop of uber tolerant millenial christians are the ones fixing it. 

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

2 Timothy 4:3‭-‬4

The emergent church teaches from the Bible, but also uses ‘holy’ books from other religions. They also use Oprah, Hillary Clinton and the Dalai Lama. The emergent church does not like the parts of the Bible that talk about sin, so they don’t teach those parts. They like the parts where Jesus heals, raises from the dead and protects would be victims of stonings. 

As a more conservative Christian who rejects tradition for the sake of tradition but also embraces the fundamental teachings of Jesus, I have a hard time with the Christian climate of today. It seems that another great divide is coming and maybe it’s already happened, and like the split that happened in Martin Luther’s day this one will be about how the Bible is taught. Unlike Luther’s reformation however, this one will hinge on the level of authority we ascribe to the Bible. 

What I’m saying is this, the Bible is either God’s Word or it isn’t. You see some of the new age teachers and pastors do not give the Bible the authority that God did. 

“Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe.”

1 Thessalonians 2:13 NLT

As the very Word of God we need to take it very seriously. When it calls certain things out as sin, those things are sin…no matter what and no matter if we don’t like it. 

Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God. Some of you were once like that. But you were cleansed; you were made holy; you were made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

1 Corinthians 6:9‭-‬11

Acknowledging sin is only the first step, we need to know if what we’re doing is wrong according to God. The Bible does this for those that see it as God’s Word, for others, they have to have someone fill them in. In other words someone has to tell them the good news about what Jesus did to save us from those sins. 

People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.

Proverbs 28:13 NLT

Emergent teaching focuses on the mercy mentioned in Proverbs or the grace that the New Testament talks about. And that’s not a bad thing, the grace and mercy we receive are amazing, way more than we deserve and we should be shouting for joy that we’ve got it. In order to know how awesome that grace is, we need to know how serious our sin is, when we down play our sin we also down play grace. 

Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.

Romans 6:1‭-‬7 NLT

This is where the balance of truth and grace comes in. We have been commissioned by God to tell the world about Jesus. The world on the other hand doesn’t want to hear it, they tell us to keep it to ourself and that faith is personal. The emergent church doesn’t recognize sin or the authority of Scripture so they aren’t going to be the ones who teach the hard truths of the Bible. On the flip side people like me can sometimes focus too much on the hard truth and not enough on the grace. 

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

Ephesians 4:29 

So here’s the point; Christians need to know the Bible and what it says, even when they don’t like it. Like I said, I wish I could tell the people I know who continue to indulge in sin that it’s okay, God loves you and there’s no need to repent. But I can’t. God does love them, but He hates the things that come between them and Him. Sin is serious, it must be recognized as such and then be repented of, if we leave out that very important step we run the risk of paving that road of good intentions straight to you know where. 

Like Paul told the Ephesians, none of this truth telling needs to be done with harsh or foul language. It should be done in a good and helpful way that encourages the listener but not saying what is true is just as good as lying. 

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