Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Relevant Word. . .

The Word of the Lord does not only endure forever but is relevant to every age and time.  Its timeless message of a changeless Christ for a changing world is inherent to its subject and power but it seems that some are not convinced.  They think that the message has to be made relevant.  Much of evangelicalism has abandoned the inherent relevance of the message of sin and forgiveness, guilt and righteousness, life and death, and replaced this with the idea that Christianity offers improvements for the shape of an already okay life.  Yes, but there is more. . . seems to be the premise of the modern preacher.  Listen here to one critique.  Read on for some of my words. . .

This so-called Purpose Driven Preaching has abandoned the idea of the efficacious Word and believes the Word has to be made attractive to those not attracted by the message of sin and forgiveness.  So the purpose driven preacher surveys the Scriptures for a take on modern life in which the good can be improved or the bad can be rescued.  In this way the church attracts non-Christians with the invitation to either self-improvement or the God who makes their lives better.  Jesus becomes less the Savior than life-coach or inspirational speaker.  He does not give to us salvation but helpful tips on how to make life better, happier, or more productive. The purpose driven preacher skips over the cross and empty tomb to tell the non-believer or the one turned off by the church,
  • you too can be a better leader and get people to follow you, 
  • you too can have great and more satisfying relationships, 
  • you too can make good friends or better friends or make people like you, 
  • you too can be relieve anxiety and live more positively, 
  • you too can have more sex and more satisfying sex,
  • you too can appreciate yourself more and listen more to your inner voice,
  • and etc. and etc...
Bible passages become proof texts for the premise of better living through shallow Christianity, the preachers rip them out of context, and they are hobbled together as if the gospel were merely a plan toward happiness.  In the end, the Scriptures are a glorified to do list with a few don’ts thrown in as well.  Inevitably, the final point is the call to go and live free.

Purpose driven preachers offer the real law and Gospel only later, if at all, and make all their preaching about spirituality in general and getting more out of your whatever in specific.  This is the gnostic lie repackaged.  It says that God has hidden little secrets or helps in His Word or in common wisdom to help you make your life better, that is, happier and more satisfying.  We all know what a downer it is to talk about sin and to admit that death is neither natural nor God's intended.  So much of this purpose driven preaching, while not bad in the sense of encouraging evil, it is bad that it substitutes lies and fallacies for the truth that saves.  In this respect, it it worse than evil for it betrays Christ and Him crucified for a self-help guru who knows what you can do to improve yourself.

We cannot make the Word relevant or not -- sin and death have already taken care of that.  There is no more relevant subject and message than sin and death, evil and righteousness, life and death, a hopeless end or an end with real hope.  The Word is relevant because we are sinners who are marked with death and God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, declaring the sinner just in Christ, clothing us with His righteousness, raising us from death to life eternal, and equipping us with the Holy Spirit that we might live and walk by faith the narrow way of everlasting life.

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