Romans 3:9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all. For we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin. (NKJV; emphasis mine)
(Previous devotionals can be found at www.seriousfaith.com)
Imagine with me…. you read an advertisement that declares one of history’s all time greatest preachers will be presenting God’s Word to the lost.
“Bring your unsaved friends, your unbelieving family members and all of your neighbors who need the Gospel!” the ad declares. You arrive at the service to find not only a huge crowd of non-Christians, but a large contingent of Christian leaders as well – Pastors, preachers, church growth specialists, teachers – all anxious to witness how the “best Preacher of all time” does things so they can take his successful techniques back to their own churches and organizations.
With great anticipation, the Giant of the Faith steps up to the podium. He’s not much to look at, for sure, but hey, image problems can be overcome with presence, right? As he begins to speak, it’s apparent that not only is he kind of an eyesore, he’s not even all that good of a speaker. I mean, with someone of his reputation, you would be hoping for the Christian equivalent of Tony Robbins.
“Well” you think, “hmmm. He’s not impressive looking; he’s not a dynamic, captivating speaker… it must be his content that has earned him the reputation of one of God’s all time great church builders.” Mild disappointment soon turns to puzzled annoyance as this supposed “great teacher” proclaims:
- There is not one person here that is righteous.
- None of you understand God’s truth.
- Not a single one of you seek after anything Godly.
- All of you have strayed from God’s plan and there is nothing about you worth anything.
- There is not one single person here that is good, not even one.
- Your words are like rotting dead people.
- You are all deceitful on purpose.
- Your mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.
- You are quick to shed blood and you ruin everything you come in contact with.
- You don’t know a thing about real peace.
- You have no real respect for God.
With each passing statement different groups begin to mumble, shake their heads and the auditorium starts to empty out.
- The unbelievers who have been fed a steady diet of “love yourself” all their life – by the world, the education system and even their churches – simply cannot believe this self-esteem-destroying, unloving condemnation. What kind of “Gospel” is this that makes you feel so bad about yourself? God is “love” and following Jesus is supposed to be the path to improving your life and helping you to finally learn to love yourself like you should. Much of the crowd sensing an attack on their self-esteem and self-worth quickly decide that this “preacher” is out of touch with the realities of the modern church.
- The prosperity teachers begin to exit, wanting to escape all these “negative confessions” and faith-killing proclamations. Doesn’t this guy get it? Doesn’t he know that saying all these negative things will cause them to come to pass, and that “real faith” is “positive faith”? Hasn’t he learned that God has revealed to us today a more complete “revelation” – the positive-faith-filled-Word?
- The seek-friendly-church-growth-experts make their disappointed exit realizing that they weren’t going to find anything here to help them attract the world into their pews. Every graduate of “Church Growth 101” knows that you don’t invite unbelievers in and start telling them how sinful and wicked they are. You’ve got to “meet people at the point of their need” and give them resources and ministries that will help them get their life turned around. The church of today is a church that is relevant and gives people what they seeking and helps them to fulfill their potential. This old fashioned preaching about sin just simply does not work today… it’s not “relevant” anymore… it doesn’t “reach” real people.
- Many other Pastors start filing out knowing that Christianity only works when it is tolerant, inclusive and “loving”… all this talk of sin and wickedness doesn’t draw people to God’s love. People are looking for love, not condemnation. People need to feel accepted, not judged. This may have worked in times past, but we have come a long way past “browbeating” someone over “sin”. Several of those that are walking out are household names in American Christianity who have declared publicly that “preaching sin” is ineffective at a best, destructive at worst.
Every graduate of “Church Growth 101” knows
that you don’t invite unbelievers in and
start telling them how sinful and wicked they are.
Well with only a small handful of people left in attendance, you start to wonder how this “man of God” could possibly consider the night a “success”. He’s just emptied out a large auditorium and is left with what appears to be couple of poor people and a few others who don’t look like they would win any popularity contests… all of them weeping and sobbing; a couple of them actually flat on their face on the floor, crying.
Then the Apostle Paul makes his way down to the pitiful little group, and shares the Good News of Jesus Christ to those who have come to realize that they truly have a need for a Savior; those who are broken in spirit can have their spirits made new. Those who realize their sin, can have their sins washed away. Those who recognize their wicked hopelessness, can now embrace The Hope.
The list of points Paul preached are of course directly from God’s Word in Romans 3. The list of responses are also of course very real, and very common responses that we see all across “Christendom” today.
Do you see how far we’ve strayed from true Gospel today? How can people accept a Savior if they don’t realize they need to be saved from something? How can people truly repent if they don’t truly believe they have sinned? How can people understand salvation if they don’t understand condemnation? (This involves an understanding of what sin is, where it came from and why we all are “infected” with it… but that’s another Devotional).
The Gospel must be presented GOD’s WAY…
in full, in balance and in truth.
We are sinners. We are condemned.
God has provided salvation.
What we have a lot of today is “Madison Avenue Salvation” that packages the Gospel in a way that makes it easier to “sell” and more “successful”. God help us and those who never hear the real Gospel.
Lord God, Help us to present the Truth about salvation with no spin or marketing. Help us to present Your Word just as You have presented without our “help” to make it more palatable. Open the hearts of those who need salvation and we pray you will send someone to them to teach them the truth about sin and the Savior. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Application: How foolish and arrogant we humans are when we feel like we need to “package” God’s Word to make it more attractive, or easier to swallow. It’s a mistake to conform Christianity to meet the “needs” of the world for the purpose of drawing response or increasing favorable opinion. Yes, Christianity takes different things from different cultures and societies… but that should only be true concerning those things where God gives liberty. When it comes to SALVATION, the message should never be “dressed up”, “re-packaged”, “marketed”, “watered-down” or “spinned” in order to get a greater response. Preach the Gospel as the Bible presents it, and let God worry about the results.
James 1:22 – But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (NKJV)
- What is the most obvious Bible truth you have learned today?
- What change in your life needs to be made concerning this truth?
- What specific thing will you do today to begin that change?