Thursday, 1 November 2012

Why is That?...Why do we have to make Christianity so hard?

The Christian message can be confusing enough in itself...

yet we often end up complicating things more in the process of explaining ourselves...
 
 
Why is that?...


I have heard lots of different Christians try and explain the gospel. And after hearing some of them, it feels like someone has just plucked every hair off the top of my head one by one - painful and laborious.


Here is a good test for your pastor. Get alongside him and ask him to do some role playing with him. Pretend you have been shot, and have 3 minutes to live. Ask them to explain how you can get to heaven.

A pastor that has not had good theological training might say something like this:
"All your life you have been searching for something, and you haven't found it. You have a hole in your heart that you have tried to fill with drugs, sex, money etc, but it hasn't satisfied you. That is because the hole can only be filled by Jesus. Only He can satisfy, only He can fill that hole. If you want this to happen, then repeat this prayer after me: 'I'm sorry Lord for all the things I've done in my life that have gone against your will for me. I repent from all my sins. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive me. Thank you, and I accept you into my life.'
If you just prayed that prayer and meant it, congratulations, you will spend eternity in heaven!".

Believe it or not, this is actually on the website of a well-known evangelical Pastor!
Maybe this has rung a bell with you. I just hope this isn't what you are hanging your salvation on. Someone who preaches a gospel such as this does not understand who God is.

1) You don't have a God-shaped hole in your heart that can only be filled with Jesus.
Actually your heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jer 17:9). We don't need to slot Jesus alongside the filthy desires in our heart, hoping He will squeeze those things out - we need a complete heart transplant - 'I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh' Ez 36:26.
Jesus can't dwell in your heart if His death and resurrection has not changed it.

2) Repeating a prayer in itself does not save you.
Prayer is just the result of a repentant heart, not to recite as a magic mantra to heaven. It does not guarantee anything. There are never two conversions alike, and only conviction from the Holy Spirit can spark Godly sorrow, not a made up (and unbiblical) prayer.

3) To repent from your sins means you understand what sin is.
True repentance means you are turning your back on the things that God despises, and pursuing the things God loves. Drugs, sex and money in and of themselves are not sinful, but the heart's attitude towards them is. We naturally trend towards fulfilling the flesh's desires because our flesh is our master.
It is OK for God to toss you in hell for not conforming to His will. It is also OK for Him to kill His Son as a punishment for this. It is because of this reason that we should be throwing ourselves at God's mercy, not because we feel sorry for ourselves, or are looking for a get-out-of-hell-free card. We are saved - from God (from His wrath), through God (His Son Jesus), and by God (sealed by the Holy Spirit).

4) Asking God for forgiveness does not guarantee He will grant it.
Depending on whether you understand the hurt you have caused God (see no. 3), God may not automatically grant the forgiveness you desire. You would not expect a judge to let you go free from a serious crime if all you did was say sorry. A price has to be paid, and either Jesus has paid this on your behalf, or you will pay it yourself. Only true Godly repentance brought about by true Godly sorrow can guarantee true Godly forgiveness.

5) 'Accepting' Jesus into your heart is no guarantee He will come in.
This is a common error made by Christians, probably due to a faulty interpretation of Rev 3:20 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to dine with him, and he with Me'.
In context, Jesus is addressing His church. This is not addressed to unbelievers, as He cannot come into a desperately wicked heart (see no.1) until the conditions of repentance and forgiveness (3 & 4) are met.

The gospel is easy. Yet in some way we have managed to simplify it so much, and at the same time made it sound so confusing - to the point where it is stripped of its' saving power. Sometimes we just need to speak the truth, not change it's meaning completely by redefining it's core values.

As an example, last weekend I was fortunate to see Disney's 'Mary Poppins' Musical in Auckland (and thoroughly enjoyed it!).

There is a song in the middle of the production that everybody knows the chorus, but only few would admit to! It goes like this:

Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle ay
Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle ay

Because I was afraid to speak when I was just a lad
My father gave my nose a tweak and told me I was bad
But then one day I learned a word that saved my achin' nose
The biggest word you ever heard and this is how it goes


Oh, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!
Even though the sound of it is something quite atrocious
If you say it loud enough you'll always sound precocious
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!


©Richard M Sherman, Robert Sherman. 

Don't deny it, I know you were singing along to yourself!

So if:

super = above
cali = beauty
fragilistic = delicate
expiali = to atone
docious = educable

this means that something (or someone) that is supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, is magnificiently beautiful, delicate, able to make amends, and is willing to learn. Huh?

I know they are only having fun for comedy's sake, but you get the picture.

Based on that, here is another song I just made up:

Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle ay
Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle ay

When I was just a little boy I was so very shy
When others' spoke I'd look away, not look them in the eye
But then one day I learned a word that saved my self-esteem
The strangest word you ever heard, the longest ever seen

Oh, Ultradauntlialtruistisimplimaturatious!
When you first repeat it loud it sounds so efficacious
And if you say it more than once it helps you be loquacious
Ultradauntlialtruistisimplimaturatious!

ultra = the very most
dauntli = confident
altruisti = to be generous
simpli = very much so
maturatious = all grown up

efficacious = being remedial
loquacious = talkative

Can you see what I mean? Anyone can burble out a load of garbage. There are lots of big words that rhyme with 'maturatious' that I could have justified inserting into the song.
But just because I am stringing English words together, it doesn't mean I'm making sense.
And in the same way that just because I throw in a few biblical verses to my conversation, and can speak fluent Christianese, it does not make me super-spiritual, or that what I am saying is correct.

Oh, let us repent of our washing-down of the gospel, and no be afraid to speak the truth in love!

Blessings

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