An Honest Response: Yes, ALL Christians are Hypocrites

One of the unexpected results of my “Top 10” post going viral is that it’s given me the opportunity to interact (via email and comments) with hundreds of people who are either atheists, anti-theists, agnostics, or skeptics.

I listened and I’ve attempted to answer as accurately, honestly, and transparently as possible.  To that end, I took inventory of the basic comments, complaints, and objections of Christianity.  I’ll address them over the next several articles, but it didn’t take long to identify the one major problem non-christians had with christianity…

 

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Christians!

Here are a few of many, many responses and comments I got:

“The subject isn’t why people leave Christianity, it’s why young people leave the church. Many young people leave because the people they are surrounded by are unpleasant, egotistical, and judgmental at best and hateful, criminal and hypocritical at worst.” – Tim

“Many “religious” people are hypocritical, they teach “tolerance” when really there isn’t any unless you are the right kind of person… it’s a joke!” – RPennington

“I left the Evangelical Church for the simpkr reason that I could no longer, in good conscience, belong to an organization that was so completely intolerant and hypocritical. For a religion that is supposed to be based on radical love I find that 90 Percent of the Christians I meet to be extremely judgemental black and white thinkers and their philosophies.” – Meg

“Most churches have a lot of hypocrites. I know from experience that people don’t act in church the way they act the rest of the time.” – Holly

“I think the term “hypocrite” comes from being told one thing by the staff and pulpit but in reality the staff does exactly what u’ve been told not too in private. U get told how wrong it is to do something yet their own children still living in their home are participating in those same activities you’ve just been judged for doing. I think that’s where the hypocrisy comes from.” – KT

And here’s my response.

Ready?

I agree. Completely.  The church is full of hypocrites.

Even ardent detractors of Christianity would agree that Jesus was pretty clear on where he stood with hypocrites. (Matthew 24 anyone)?  In fact, Jesus is much harsher on hypocrites than we are.  Why is that?  Well, since we have such disdain for these “hypocrites”, let’s define what, or who they are.

Hypocrite (per Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

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In Texan, we’d call that “fakes and failures”.
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But you can only be a fake or a failure based upon a standard. And we ALL have standards. What are some things you believe or support. Being kind? Being generous? Getting enough sleep? Exercising? Eating well?
Do you do each of them perfectly? Of course you don’t. I don’t. So, by definition, I’m a hypocrite.
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We’re in good company. The Apostle Paul, who wrote roughly HALF of the New Testament said of himself in Romans 7:

For I do not understand my own actions. ForI do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. ”  

 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.” 

“Wretched man that I am!”

Paul? Hypocrite by definition.  What what separated him from the hypocrites (Pharisees) that Jesus blasted?

27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are likewhitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

 33 You serpents,you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?

So much for “Gentle Jesus, Meek and Mild”, huh?  Jesus hated hypocrisy more than we do.

But let’s make sure we’re clear in our distinctions:

Paul? Failure

Pharisees? Fakes

In the end, we’re all failures. The difference is, from a Christian perspective, that we KNOW this. It’s the entire FOUNDATION of our faith; that ONLY through acknowledging this failure, this complete inability to do what it is we WANT through faith,  can we be saved by Christ.  You may reject the gospel of repentance of this failure and faith in Christ’s sacrificial death to forgive you of that failure. But christian, atheist, anti-theist, agnostic, or skeptic, we all fail in striving to live up to the standards we profess.

What does this mean in regard to the criticism of christians?

1. You’re right. We’re hypocrites (failures). I fail. I fail every…single…day in both word and deed in not only the things I’ve done, but things I’ve failed to do.  I fail in my 2 stated goals by not loving God with all my heart and by not loving my neighbor as myself.

2. Anyone in the “visible” church who denies #1 is a hypocrite (fake).  Jesus himself says that every..single.. person fails to live up to the standard. If you claim you do, and are delusionally trying to convince others that you do… you’re a fake. A fraud. A phony. And to those who criticize them as such, you’re right. Jesus agreed.

Christians aren’t “good people”, we’re hypocrites (failures).  But the very core message of our faith prohibits us from being hypocrites (fakes).  To be a “self-righteous Christian” is complete violate the law of non-contradiction. It’s impossible to be “self-righteous” in a faith where our ONLY righteousness comes from outside of us (Christ).   Do you want to know how strongly Christianity teaches against “self-righteousness”?  Scripture describes our  “self-righteous works” as  filthy rags. Literally, dirty menstrual cloths. Let that sink in.  (Isaiah 64). Any “righteousness” a christian has is the polar opposite of “self-righteousness”! As the same Apostle Paul says in his letter to the Philippians:

For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith

So, we all fail. We’re all hypocrites if we’ve held ourselves to any standard of “goodness”, we’ve failed. The question is, which hypocrite are you, fake or failure?
Can you see past your criticism of others to see your own fault?
 “A lot of Christians in my life have been judgmental and cruel to people different from them, especially homosexuals, Muslims, and atheists. Whether it’s mostly true or not, Christians are perceived as hateful, and I don’t want to be associated with them. There is no excuse for discrimination.” – Holly
Ouch. Do you see the hypocrisy in that very statement? To Holly, there is no excuse for discrimination and judging people different form you.. unless you don’t want to be associated with Christians because, true or not, Christians are perceived that way. Do you see the hypocrisy?!?
Yes, we’ve all failed. But who have you failed? That’s  the question from a Christian worldview.  Who are you accountable to for that failure and how do you make it right?
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For me, I remain a hypocrite (failure) . I’ve failed God by not loving Him as he deserves. I’ve failed every single one of you reading this by not loving you more than I love myself.
And for that, I ask for forgiveness from both God and you.
Let’s discuss.
Marc

Adiaphora Part Deux: The Drinking Issue

I wrote an article recently where I covered issues of “Adiaphora”, that is contemporary (and contentious) issues within the church which are neither explicitly commanded nor condemned.  I received a comment recently to which I responded in-depth.  By the time I was finished it was several pages long, so I felt it might be helpful to post it as a follow-on article. (Besides, reading multiple paragraphs in the comments section is brutal!)

I’ll post the original comment, followed by my response.  I want to reiterate (and no matter how clearly or often I state this, it’s going to be misinterpreted) Drunkenness is a sin and is prohibited, explicitly, and repeatedly in scripture.

It. is. a. sin. to. get. drunk. 

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“Christian” wrote: 

“Thanks for your kind reply, please consider the 2 points below.

First is the concept of “drunkenness” (Eph 5:18). This word is methuskō. To be completely impaired is obviously forbidden, but what isn’t carried over from the Greek is the additional concept of not even beginning the process of impairment “to begin being softened.”

Second is the concept of being “sober” (1 Thess 5:4-8, 1 Pet 1:13, 1 Pet 5:8). The root word here is Nepho. This word carries with it in the Greek the force of abstaining from alcohol.”

My Response: 

You make several assertions which I would challenge:

1. “The concept of  ‘drunkenness’ (Eph 5:18). This word is methusko. To be completely impaired is obviously forbidden, but what isn’t carried over from the Greek is the additional concept of not even beginning the process of impairment ‘to begin being softened.’”

2. “The concept of being “sober”. The root here is Nepho. This word carries with it in the Greek the force of abstaining from alcohol.”

First, I would like to ask, respectfully, are you, personally, proficient in biblical greek?  I ask because it will determine how I respond moving forward.

Upon what do you base the assertion above? I have looked at both the greek texts and the Symantec range of both words you list (μεθυσκω, νηφω) and nowhere do I see the “additional concepts” you mention.  What are your sources for this assertion?

Below, I’ll take each occurrence of the two words in question (μεθυσκω, νηφω:

Μεθυσκω

1. μεθυσκεσθε

V-PNM/P-2P

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,

(Ephesians 5:15-18 ESV)

Comment: There is no sense, whatever, from the greek that this is “imbibing”, the verb tense here is “becoming intoxicated (passive).  To say that this is anything other than “becoming intoxicated” is eisegesis, or inserting ideas from outside the text.

Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk,

(Luke 12:43-45 ESV) (This parable is also in Matthew 24)

Comment:  The language is clear here, the unfaithful servant is drinking to become intoxicated. (Though this parable is not speaking specifically against drunkenness, rather the unfaithfulness of the servant.) Again, there is no sense whatsoever that this is speaking to imbibing in alcohol, it is explicit in describing drunkenness.

 

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

 

(1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 ESV)

 

Comment: Context here is to be aware of the “Day of the Lord”. The charge is to not to be as those who sleep or are drunk, but to be vigilant in faith, love and hope. The context here is not teaching a prohibition of alcohol any more than it is teaching a prohibition against sleeping.  Context is key here.

μεθυω

Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

 

(John 2:6-11 ESV)

 

Comment: The amount of wine here is between 120-180 gallons. We do not know how much of it was consumed by the guests. To assume that this was “too much wine” to be alcohol as it would have made every guest intoxicated is speculation. We just don’t have the “math” here: We don’t know how many guest, nor do we know how much was consumed.

With that, there are 2 important notes here;

1. The water was for rites of purification.

2. Jesus first miracle was to turn those waters used for “ritual purification” into the very symbol of his blood (wine)!

It is staggeringly beautiful in its imagery and of my favorite passages in scripture! Jesus is, indeed, the better wine!

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.

 

(Acts 2:14-15 ESV)

Comment: Again, no clear prohibition of drinking or drunkenness. The point here is that Peter was responding that the men they heard speaking the gospel in various languages were not intoxicated.

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

 

(1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 ESV)

 

Comment: As previously written: Context here is to be aware of the “Day of the Lord”. The charge is to not to be as those who sleep or are drunk, but to be vigilant in faith, love and hope. The context here is not teaching a prohibition of alcohol any more than it is teaching a prohibition against sleeping.  Context is key here.

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great prostitute who is seated on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk.”

(Revelation 17:1-2 ESV)

 

Now to discuss the term νεφω (sober)

Strong’s Greek: 3525. νήφω (néphó) — 6 Occurrences

1 Thessalonians 5:6 V-PSA-1P

3525 /nḗphō (“be sober, unintoxicated”) refers to having presence of mind (clear judgment), enabling someone to be temperate (self-controlled). 3525 /nḗphō (“uninfluenced by intoxicants”) means to have “one’s wits (faculties) about them,” which is the opposite of being irrational.

But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.

 

(1 Thessalonians 5:4-8 ESV)

Comment: I do believe in this case sober does (in one sense) mean “not intoxicated” as it is contrasted to those who are drunk.  The contrast is also between those who are asleep and those who are alert.  The symantic range of  νεφω allows for both and I think in this context, both are intended.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

 

(2 Timothy 4:3-5 ESV)

 

Comment: This text clearly shows that being “sober-minded”, alert, and having clear judgment (as listed in every lexicon I’ve researched).  Context here would make “no drunk” untenable.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

 

(1 Peter 1:10-13 ESV)

 

Comment: As above, suber-minded as “not drunk” makes no sense here. Context clearly shows that this is referring to alert and of clear judgment.

For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead. For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.

(1 Peter 4:3-7 ESV)

Comment:  Again, an explicit charge to avoid drunkenness among other sins and to be self-controlled and sober-minded.  No argument here.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

(1 Peter 5:6-11 ESV)

 

Comment here: The context again is to be sober-minded/watchful and alert as our adversary prowls like a roaring lion.  While I certainly believe that being intoxicated near a prowling lion on the hunt would be ill advised, I don’t think anyone would logically conclude that as being the context here.

In closing:

1.  None of the passages above prohibit the consumption of alcohol. None. I believe you continue to bring an external pietism into the text.  I would humbly ask if you would have read the texts above, with no cultural influence, and come to the conclusion that consuming alcohol is sinful or prohibited.

2. Those teaching that the consumption of alcohol is sinful do so by logic and personal experience rather than through any scriptural prohibition.  The effects of alcohol abuse are indisputable.  But we do not call what God has called “good” as “bad” because man sins through violating their created purpose. By the extension of this logic, we would not prohibit sex due to abuse outside of its intended purpose, nor food, nor money.

In spite of the questions, assertions, and extra-biblical argumentation, the fact remains that there is no biblical prohibition on the consumption of alcohol. If you choose to abstain, God bless you. It is certainly understandable to avoid areas which may cause you to stumble. However, no man has the right to decree a thing “evil” which God has created as “good”, nor to burden His people with “sin” which has not been labeled such in scripture.

Thanks again for the dialog, brother!

sDg

Marc

 

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“The Bible” History Channel Series: A Review

I didn’t plan to review this series, as I really didn’t expect much from it, but after several requests, here we go!

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I’ll do a quick review on the good, the bad, and the ugly:

The Good:

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Hey, they took a shot. To have any mention of the Bible in our culture has the opportunity to be a good thing.

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The imagery and special effects of some of the major biblical events is stunningly good. I can see these being used as illustrations for years to come.  The ark on the water, the burning bush, parting the Red Sea.. all really really well done.

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The Bad:

Let’s be honest, we knew the History Channel wasn’t going to break out a full blown presentation of the Gospel here.  I figured, at best, we’d get a series of “Bible Stories” which would walk the line between “inspired word of God” and “cool myths”.  I wasn’t wrong.  I figured any controversial issues (the cause for Sodom’s destruction anyone?) would be avoided or minimized.

What we got were man-centered “tales” where the hero of each story was the man involved; Moses and Abraham in this episode. Again, exactly what one would expect.

There were also some glaring inaccuracies; Abram being called Abraham too early in the narrative, extra-textual dialogue, Ninja-Angels that fought their way through the crowd like something from a John Woo film.. I don’t agree with the license taken, but I understand it.

What I don’t get, is that with the time, money, and resources they had available, they don’t appear to give  what I would expect as a bare minimum.. what I have seen those who absolutely reject the Bible as divinely inspired do… get the theme right.  Even if you viewed the Bible as a complete work of ancient mythology, how do you miss the entire theme?

If the writers of this series produced “Saving Private Ryan”, it would have been told as the story of a bunch of guys on a boat ride to Europe who then ran around the woods shooting at each other.  They simply missed the context, the “meta-narrative” if  you will.

The Bible is first and foremost a story of redemption. God redeeming a people to Himself throughout history, and the players involved in that unfolding story.  To completely miss the theme of redemption in the Biblical narrative is absurd.  And as I notice the themes removed from various stories (such as the way the sacrifice of Isaac was portrayed), I’m afraid it’s not unintentional.

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The Ugly:

Here’s the rub; The Bible is a book of God’s redemption of a fallen people. The entire message of the gospel (I cringe to think how they’ll handle that) is that fallen man needed the direct, gracious, intervention of God to be saved.  To avoid that theme is not only missing the entire point, but makes this series more damaging than good.

I disagree with those who say that this “opens the door for dialog”, or that it give people “an introduction” to the Bible.  This presentation of the Bible as a set of heroic individuals actually hinders future gospel presentation as it confuses the categories.  If one already “knows the story”, why would they feel a need to hear it form someone else?

As I wrote to a friend last night, Men are saved by:

“Repentance and faith in Christ as the holy spirit works through proclamation of the gospel. No gospel, no go. Generic “God talk” or inaccurate retelling of “bible stories” does nothing for the unregenerate. Possibly even less than nothing as they feel they’ve “heard it”.”

So, I’ll continue to watch, though I probably won’t have my kids watch it with me. They’ll get their presentation of the Bible from me as I catechize them each evening, from their Pastors,  and from their Sunday School teachers.  While I appreciate the effort, the History Channel is wholly unqualified to weigh here.

Swing and a miss.

Marc

Now What? The Gospel.

Closing out the first year of Marc5Solas, I posted what I thought was simply my 53rd article. I expected it would be read by the same few hundred folks who had read the others. And then.. Wow. More than half a million views, interviews, quotes in sermons, newsletters and bible studies… here we are.

A dear friend asked me two very poignant questions:

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“What do you do to follow THAT?” and “What would you have written if you knew hundreds of thousands of people were going to read it?”

These questions really bothered me. I literally tossed and turned and lost sleep over them. I wish I could say that there wasn’t some pragmatic, prideful temptation to DO something to keep the large crowd, but that would be untrue.  (And isn’t that the very problem I wrote about in the Top10 article anyway?)

I know, in fact, that there is only one way to answer those questions:

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I may write this article to the same few hundred folks that read my blog before, or it may be read by a million… but I can’t let that be my focus. I’ve got to imagine that I have the same opportunity I have every time I sit down to write.. and all I have worth passing on to you is the “foolish”, “simple” gospel of faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sin.

We assume we know the gospel, and we assume our kids do as well. Yet, I see so many folks get it wrong that I can’t help but think we need to have it spelled out; Simply. Daily. Repeatedly.

So, with the help of Sister-in-Christ (and epic artist) Di Wages, here is a primer on the basics of the Christian faith.


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CREATION:

Genesis 1 teaches us that God created man, and the world, pure and without sin. (Gen 1:31)

In the illustration above, we see the following:

1. The world, signified by the blue background, is pure and without sin.

2. God and Man commune openly.

It is important to understand that this is NOT the world we live in today, as we see the pain and suffering which surround us.

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FALL:

Although God created man upright and perfect, and gave him a righteous law, the first man, Adam, willingly broke this law.

Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and through them, we inherit this fallen nature;  We are all born dead in sin, totally defiled in soul and body,  and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, and the subjects of death.  We are broken and are unable by nature to have true fear of God and true faith in God.

Since all men are born in sin, their relationship to God is not like the first illustration, our relationship by nature is that of fear and despair, and because of that, hatred toward God. 

Get that.  While the decisional theology of “altar calls” in America has taught that fallen man can, of his own accord, “choose God” it is absolutely a false teaching called Pelagianism. It doesn’t matter if you are Baptist, Assemblies of God, Lutheran, Presbyterian, etc. This is NOT the belief of the church or of your denomination!

In the illustration above, we see the following:

1. The world, signified by black, is fallen. We see the effects of this every day as men die, sin, and are involved in all manner of evil.

2. Man’s nature, signified by the red shading of the man, is fallen.

3. Man’s is unable on his own to “choose God”.

There are 2 common errors I want to point out here:

Man is unable to seek God in this, his natural state. The view that man is not fallen and can choose God of his own will is an error (heresy) called Pelagianism.

While some denominations believe we are sinners because we sin, while others believe that we are born in sin, there is no denying that we all hold to the view that we are *unable* to “choose God” of our own will.

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REGENERATION:

God changes the “heart of stone” to a “heart of flesh” and through this regeneration man is able to “choose God”.

This may come us a surprise to you, as you may well believe that the order is:

Faith (I believe), Rebirth (I am born again), Justification (I am saved).

However, the Bible teaches:

Rebirth, Faith, Justification

Wait, you may be thinking, that’s not what my denomination believes.  While it may not be what is articulated from the pulpit much these days as “Altar calls” and decisional theology have crept in to the American church, this is what both orthodox Christianity and your denomination believe. There may be differences in *how* this happens (extent and means), but that it happens is unquestionable.

This is an amazing source of comfort to all who believe in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. It means that if you have repented and in faith believed, that God was at work  in you to do this very thing!  So not only is salvation through faith in Christ a tremendous gift of grace, the faith *itself* is a gift!

In the illustration above, we see the following:

1. The arrow moves in one direction, from God to man.

2. Man’s heart is changed from a heart of stone (previously red) to a heart of flesh (now green).

3. Notice that we still live in a fallen world (black background).

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FAITH:

As God has given us faith to believe, we respond to the call of gospel.

In the illustration above, we see the following:

1. Man has a heart of flesh (green)

2. Man responds to the gospel (green arrow)

3. Man is saved though the atoning work of Christ (green arrow)

There are some subtleties in verbiage regarding Christ’s saving work (extent, efficacy) that are certainly important, but this illustration will suffice to illustrate justification by faith in Christ.

4. Although we are now “saved”, we *still* live in a fallen world. The fallen nature of the world still remains during this life even for those who are regenerated. And though you are forgiven, you will still sin during this life and you will still ultimately die.

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REDEMPTION:

Remember the first illustration? It will return.  God is in the process of redeeming creation. The sickness, pain, evil, and death we see in this world will end. And for those who are in Christ will one day experience the reality of the beauty that this illustration can only hint at.

So, I’ll leave you with what I would have written had I known more than half a million people would read this blog:

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THE GOSPEL:

We are born in sin, fallen and just objects of God’s wrath.  We have sinned against a Holy God and against our fellow man in thought, word, and deed by loving things more than God and by not loving our neighbor as ourself. We were doomed.

But God, the very creator of heaven and earth in his unfathomable mercy sent Jesus, His only Son, our Lord, to be the atonement for our sin and to reconcile us to Himself. Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, lived a sinless life, suffered under Pontius Pilot, was crucified, died, and was buried.

Get that. Fully God (God’s only Son), and Fully Man (born of the Virgin Mary).  He really lived (suffered under Pontius Pilot), and really died (was dead and buried).

But that’s not where it ends:

The third day he rose again from the dead.  He was seen by hundreds of witnesses. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. He will return to judge the living and the dead.

Get that. Judgement is coming for all men. It’s not a popular message, but I plead with you to let the weight of that rest on you today.

The good news? The Gospel? That Christ has paid the price for that sin. To all who would repent and in faith believe in Christ as the only means for the forgiveness of sin, their sins will be forgiven. And grace added onto absurd grace, we will not only be forgiven, but adopted. Think about that; Not only not condemned, but viewed as righteous and adopted as joint heirs with Christ Himself. Incredible!

So, in response to “what now”, “what next”? That’s it.  To the question of “How do we fix the problems you listed in the Top 10 article?” That’s it.  I don’t have another methodology for you. I don’t have a program. I don’t have a style.  Just a charge:

Preach the Gospel.

We will no doubt lose kids from the church, but let it be a rejection of the gospel we are called to proclaim and not a counterfeit message we have substituted in an effort “keep” them.

Preach the Gospel.

In season, and out of season. Preach it in hoodies, and in suits. Preach it to all men everywhere.

Preach it.

Marc

Radio Interview with Pilgrim Radio

The following is from a recent appearance on Pilgrim Radio which aired February 21 on KNIS in Carson City, Nevada, KNVQ in Elko, Nevada, KCSP-FM in Casper, Wyoming, KDNR in Cheyenne, Wyoming, KDOX in Big Pine, California, KTME in Rock Springs / Green River, Wyoming, KPMD in Evanston, Wyoming, KMJB in Lander / Riverton, Wyoming, and KLMT inBillings, Montana.

You can listen to Pilgrim Radio live via internet at:  http://www.pilgrimradio.com/

Special thanks to Mr. Bill Feltner!

https://vimeo.com/60473029