Posts Tagged ‘ gospel ’

Forgetting the truth.

Do you think perhaps sometimes we choose to be lost? That we choose darkness over the light we’ve experienced and tasted for ourselves? I do. I think it happens all too often, and unfortunately, I don’t know that anyone is safe from this tendency. It’s this tendency that has plagued us from the very beginning, the tendency that introduced sin into the world when there was only one law.

Think about it – only one thing that God said to follow. Don’t eat from that tree. Eat from all the other trees, as much as you want. There is plenty to eat, and you’ll never run out if you just trust that God has your best interests at heart. Just don’t eat from that one in the center.

But we fell then, and we fall now for that same lie. Or set of lies. First the temptation…
“It’s not that big a deal.”
“Everyone is doing it, so it can’t be that bad.”
“God is trying to keep something good from you.”
“God will forgive you; go on ahead!” (the most sinister lies are mixed with truth)

Then, after the deed is done…
“That…was a big deal.”
“You’re the only one who struggles with this. Shame on you. How can you even call yourself a Christian?”
“Now that you’ve screwed things up royally, God is going to withhold blessings from you.”
“Do you really think God is going to forgive you…again?”

Today’s reading in Every Word with PAC was Ezekiel 16-17, where God speaks to Israel about their waywardness and straying from Him. In Ezekiel 16, particularly, God compares Israel to a whore, except that rather than accepting payment for her lewdness, she actually gives gifts to her adulterers and puts herself out there more than even a prostitute would. At the end of the chapter, though, God renews His covenant with her.

This Scripture today spoke to me in a way I’d been craving for a while. I’ve noticed that even though I’ve been pretty good with getting my reading in each day, many times it can be just in and out without really taking much effect. Also, as I mentioned the last time I was at Immerse (young adult group at PAC, meets on Wednesday nights at 7 in the Chapel), when I begin to drift in my attention to, love for and application of the Word of God, I get more lenient towards myself when it comes to sin. I can find myself becoming like Israel as described in Ezekiel 16 – moving in a direction I ought to stay away from and rationalizing it under common grace.

What really gets me, though, is that despite all the reasons God had to just throw His hands up and give up on Israel, He didn’t. And despite all my mess and your mess, He didn’t give up on us either. He went really far the other way, in fact. God be praised.

You’re never too far from the grace of God through Jesus. He’s never given up on you, and He never will.

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I’m not the standard

Recently, I was listening to a sermon that had an evangelistic bent. Only problem was – I really wasn’t feeling it. I’d heard the speaker before and thought he’d done well before, but this time it just wasn’t resonating with me.

Before I go any further, I don’t want this to be “Will’s a sermon connoisseur and has high standards when it comes to them.” Full disclosure, I do listen to a lot of sermons. Not sure I can count them. And while I have unsubscribed from some, the amount of sermons I listen to tends to have an upward trend. I really like good preaching.

But my concern wasn’t for me. It’s not that I was disappointed with the quality and was about to walk about because there wasn’t much for me. There was. The sermon was based on Ephesians, and there’s plenty for me to still learn from that, and plenty for the rest of the people listening.

My concern was that while the gospel was being alluded to, it wasn’t being communicated in a way that made it clear that people need to make a decision. There was no call to action. Almost as if the assumption was that everyone in the room already had a real relationship with Christ.

Now, of course, I hope that was true. I hope everyone in there truly knew Jesus and the utter hopelessness and misery he saved us from. But I’m living proof that assuming people are on the same page is dangerous. My heart goes out to the person who sits in the pew each week but has not truly understood the gospel.

So basically, I was listening to the sermon, but with a critical and judgmental attitude – not because I thought it was a weak message (it wasn’t), but because it was the kind of sermon you nod to. The kind you don’t really disagree with. The kind you think is funny and may laugh at different points. None of these things are bad, but I wanted and was expecting to hear the kind of sermon that keeps you up at night and makes you re-examine your life. As a Christian, I don’t think I can ever get enough of re-examining myself and making sure I know the gospel I purport to believe.

But as I sat there, judgmental of the pastor who’s been engaged in God’s work full-time, as I sat there comparing him to the other preachers I listen to pretty much on a daily basis, God convicted me. I was judging the sermon based on how I would respond. Based on the convictions that were stirred up in me as a result.

But I’m not the standard.

As long as the gospel is preached, God’s Word doesn’t return void. As long as the gospel is preached, souls can be saved regardless of how well it was communicated. As long as the gospel is preached, God can and will draw people to Himself.

Maybe one day I’ll preach. Not because I think I’m a good speaker or because I have something special to share, but because I have a burden for lost people who don’t know they’re lost. I have a burden for lost people who attend church regularly, are involved with fellowship and perhaps ministry, and who seem to have it all together.

But if that day comes and I find myself in front of a crowd preaching the gospel, I’d best not apply my own standard to the effectiveness of my communication. I’d best just make sure I’m sticking to the true gospel and communicating it in a way that will draw the hidden lost out of hiding.