Thursday, February 6, 2014

An open letter to my "Christian" Facebook friends

We call ourselves Christians? Why do we smell like sulfur?

I know a vast majority of you would say to me, "Why yes I'm a Christian", and for various reasons. Please read on.

Some of you are offended by my obsession with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I'm confident that some of you would prefer if I would cut back on the "overly Christian" postings... all of the Bible stuff might turn people away from God. I can tell you emphatically that it is not a persistent pointing to Christ that turns people from His Gospel... it is an overwhelming love for self and for sin that keep people from God.

There is nothing in the entirety of our lives more important than a Biblical understanding of God and His Gospel and coming to a repentant submission to Him. This drives my love for God and His Word; it further drives my opposition to false Gospel.

"But you make yourself a hypocrite by preaching holiness and repentance." Yes, I am not perfect, however, there is in me a desire to serve God and surrender my sin to Him - and being of His Church, I am commanded to preach. And a great burden I feel, to do so. A recent meme expresses a clarifying sentiment:
"Not going to church because of hypocrites is like not going to the gym because of out of shape people"
As Christians we are called to preach the Gospel. That's it; love God (Mark 12:28-31) and disciple people (Matthew 28:19-21)... all the time. And I'm afraid that for so long, so many have been "discipled" in such a way that PREVENTED them from coming to know God.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’" Matthew 7:21-23
I must ask you, In what does the confidence of your salvation lie? Do you point to a prayer you said one time; or to a verse of scripture that says God loves everyone in the world; or is it because you have come to a place of repentance and submission to Almighty God?

I can tell you, it is not the utterance of a magical prayer that saves; you will not find that sort of ministry existing in Scripture. I can also tell you that not everyone will be with God in heaven (Revelation 21:8, Matthew 10:28, Mark 9:47), the idea that John 3:16 assures everyone of their salvation is an incomplete thesis of the Gospel; but further to that, it is universalism - and a horrific distortion of Scripture.

I must ask you, for what purpose did you pursue salvation? Was it so you could be forever in "bliss" or "Utopia"... the "big party"? Was it so you would avoid the fires of Hell? Was it at the manipulative prompting of an "evangelist"? Was it because you thought it would give you a better life now? Was it because you recognized that God is Almighty Lord and worthy of all praise, worship and submission?

I can tell you, if your own good is at the forefront of your decision to follow Christ, you have sought an idol - yourself; and God has nothing to do with it (Colossians 3:17). Salvation is a byproduct, a beautiful one, a gift of God, that is borne out of a repentant heart and regenrated life - that can only be granted by Almighty God Himself for Himself (Ezekiel 36:22-38). The pursuit of God is about God and is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). And it begins with the work of God in your life;
"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day." John 6:44
If you are finding yourself thinking about the things of God, His Word and His Gospel; that work has already begun in you. But do not be deceived that because you uttered a prayer, or sought a better life, or have found false assurance in false teachers, that you are firmly in the grasp of the Heavenly Father - it could very truly be that the only grasp that holds you is your own; and that is insufficient for anything but damnation.

If you are a Christian, it will show in your life (Matthew 7:15-20). In your desire for Holiness and your HATRED for sinful things, and in your desire for Christian fellowship (Hebrews 10:25). So often I see professing Christians revel in sinful carnality or in humanistic paganism, publicly, on Facebook (and various other social networks) - and it makes me sad; and it makes me wonder if they are "In the Faith".
"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother." John 3:1-10
Please do not misunderstand me, It was not that long ago that I myself could be counted among the numbers of "questionably Christian". And perfection is a blessing found only in the death of the Christian. This is not a judgement, this is an imploring, a pleading... and a desperate one.
"Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!" 2 Corinthians 13:5
We find our assurance in Him. If you would like an excellent resource on assurance I would recommend you look at "Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart" by J.D. Graeer. It is time to devote ourselves to His Word and worship and discipleship (Mark 12:28-31).

Below is a video message that I had never heard in it's entirety until recently when Liz and I took the time to listen to the whole thing together. It is powerful and it is worthwhile and you should take the 2 hours to listen to it. So many professing "Christians" will talk about watching Big Bang Theory (which I used to watch), Game of Thrones or the Wolf of Wall Street; or listening to Katy Perry or Lady GaGa or Eminem or any number of God hating entertainers (none of which are appropriate for a lover of God to put through their eyes or ears by the way Proverbs 4:23-27); these things implicitly and tacitly oppose Him - Ephesians 5:1-21; yet will not take the time to listen to the expounding of God's Word for their own edification and the Glory of God. It is shameful that we value our time so highly, and value it for the sake of our own leisure alone. If we are submitted to God completely, our time is also His.

If we are truly to be a part of the Church... God's Church, we must know Him. There is no Gospel without a knowledge of the person of God; and the first inkling of the person of God that grows in our hearts will drive us to the ground on our faces and a complete repentance and turning from self. Don't let pride destroy your life and relationship with Christ, no matter what you've called yourself in the past, repent today. It would be better to admit that you were never a Christian to begin with than, for the sake of pride, go to Hell for the sake of appearances. There is new life in Him (2 Corinthians 5:17).
"Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 36:26

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