Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Vitamin G, etc.

Vitamin G - God is a life-additive. He enhances the health and vitality of life. He gives us principes for improving our life, our parenting, our finances, our self-esteem, our morality. We learn how to have a sizzling marriage. We get more bang for our buck. We have more personal fulfillment in life, and we owe it all to God. When things aren't going so well, we just need to sprinkle a little more vitamin G on top. But what if vitamin G doesn't seem to cut it after a while? Hmm... can always try something else. No, God is not a genie. He is not Santa Claus. He is not a Divine Dr. Phil. He isn't a life-tip guru. He doesn't exist to make your life more more meaningful. He made you. You exist to glorify Him, and you have rebelled against your Maker. The only true and abiding joy we find in life is not in taking God as a vitamin or an additive. It is in having the old life, the old man crushed, and a new one supernaturally made which loves to have God enthroned and takes delight in Him because of who He is, primarily, and not just what He can give us.

The Great Big Ticket-Puncher in the Sky - Through the right act of commitment or surrender, God punches our ticket and we are promised heaven. Walk the aisle, say the prayer, sign the decision card, and your ticket is punched. No desire for God Himself, no desire for holiness? -that's ok. You're ticket is punched, you did your part, you fulfilled the transaction, and God won't reneg on His word, right? The rest of life is of little consequence. Taking up a cross? Obedience? Self-denial? That is for legalists! Right? Umm... no, actually. If you believe that you are saved on the basis of your act which "got your ticket-punched," then you aren't saved. It really is that simple. That is faith in your act, not faith in Christ.

The Guilt-Tripping Mother-in-Law - God has done so much for you. He loves you so much, has given you so much, has done so much to bring you to salvation. Jesus did so much. He loves you thiiiiiissss much (hold arms open as wide as possible). How can you turn your back on Him? He is knocking at the door of your heart. God is on His knees, pleading for you to accept Him, and then again reminding you of all He has done for you. Feel bad yet? I chose this title because it kinda reminds me of the Raymond's mother on "Everybody Loves Raymond." This isn't guilt. This is guilt-tripping. You know how you recognize real guilt? It doesn't leave you feeling like you should be doing God a favor by helping Him out. It crushes you and makes you cry out for mercy. The former is not repentance. With true, Biblical guilt, you are the pitiable one -not God.

A few obsevations:
1. Doctrine is important. It is the paint on the canvas forming the picture of God before you and others. If your doctrine portrays God in these ways, then this is what people will believe -and very naturally. The flesh loves doctrine which allows it to see God as his servant and salvation ultimately as the result of him doing the right thing. It is easily consumed because its what Adam likes to hear.

2. Nominalism no doubt finds its roots in things like these, in our country. If that is what Christianity is, then people can be "Christians" without ever being converted. Seems like we see a lot of that. This ties to the previous observation. If we can be "Christians" but never be crushed and broken and despair of hope in selves, then what could be better!? We can have the same unconverted cake but just add a very respectable icing.

I've been reading through Acts, and I read this passage in which Paul summed up his gospel ministry.


how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. (Act 20:20-21)

Seems very simple but weighty at the same time. It is simple enough to be summarized so briefly, but it is weighty enough to spend 16 chapters discussing in Romans.

This stuff gets me riled up, for sure. Part of it becomes fleshly -like, "those idiots!" Part of it, though, is sorrow and frustration. Know what I mean?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Unregenerate Church

http://www.sbtexas.com/default.asp?action=article&aid=3403&issue=12/11/2006

An interesting article about the SBC with their problem of nominal Christianity. The main point is the issue of what has happened to the SBC over the years... 16 million "members" but how many converted? Second to that is... how easily it can happen to our church or any denomination.

Three thoughts:
1. Theology really does matter. When you pump people through the "make a decision for Jesus" machine, and 2/3 of them never come back or participate in the body of Christ (but think they are Christians), what do you expect?

2. We need to pray for the Church. It seems our collective tendency is toward spiritual decay -spiritual entropy. We need God's Spirit actively moving. We need God! We need Christ to build His Church, and we need to give up on all of the fluffly tactics we employ to do it.

3. It makes me think of a virus inoculation. There is not enough Jesus to infect you, but there is just enough to make you "immune" to Him. Scary. (I stole this little metaphor from Jeff)

Is there a formula to fix it? It seems like some of the folks in the article believe we need some stricter guidelines and resolutions. That may help, but I think a lot of it revolves around these three things above, too. Of course, I really don't have any experience to make that kind of judgment. This is just what I see.