"Viewer Discretion Is Advised”
Insults and attacks on Christianity have been around for many years. Throughout the centuries the Christian faith has been under fire by those seeking to test or even discredit its truth claims. Today there exists another force that rails against the Christian faith. The grandeur and splendor that Christianity so rightly proclaims appears to be in short supply. This absence of loftiness within many congregations has stimulated a lack of confidence or even skepticism of the Christianity we see portrayed on TV, heard on our radios, and experienced in our churches.
Who or what is to blame for this trend? Are these feelings fueled from external sources such as our rapidly changing culture and diversity of belief systems, changing worldview’s, or just political correctness? Or is something going on inside our churches such as a lack of trust in our church leaders, congregations conforming themselves to what common culture wants, or a failure of the church to accurately and correctly share the word of God, specifically Law and Gospel.
All seem to share some way in this prominent shift within the Christian faith. But there’s one that stands out more than the rest, and to me is the most significant of them all. A failure to properly share the Word of God tops my list. Many different gospels are being preached unlike the Gospel that proclaims Christ’s death on the cross, His burial and rising from the dead on the third day to save man from his sin. The Gospel is often preached as something we are to do. As well, the Law is mostly scaled down to new lists of principles to try out in one’s life for the week. Turning Christianity primarily into a moralistic religion which makes it no different than any other religion found out there. All the while, Law and Gospel are confounded and the hearer is left confused unable to distinguish between the two.
When we look at man’s greatest need in life it’s imperative to identify his main problem and then look to the solution, for which Christianity does provide the cure. Man’s greatest problem is sin. Sin pronounces a death sentence upon everyone, a second death or spiritual death resulting in separation from God and eternal damnation. Sin is born into every person and it must be dealt with in order to put him in right standing with God.
The Law taught primarily as something to do and keep for moral improvement can do nothing to help save one from this life threatening condition. The proper work of the Law is to make a person aware of his sin, his rebellion against God and his inability to do what God demands of him. It thrusts him to despair of himself as he dashes all hope of saving himself by his own good deeds, works or self improvement. When one realizes that he is in big trouble and in need of a great rescue, he is driven to repent. To say “I can’t do this”. “I can’t do this very thing that God requires of me”. “God, have mercy on me!”
Here is the moment for the contrite sinner to hear the comforting message of Good News, the Gospel. That everything necessary for salvation has already been done for him in Christ dying on the cross on his behalf, being in the grave for three days, and rising from the dead. This is the crux of the Christian faith and should be the central theme in every congregation and heard from the mouth of every pastor every Sunday.
Yes, in America our culture, beliefs, and ideologies are changing in many ways. And yes the church is facing many issues of it’s own namely in its failure to properly present God’s Word, especially Law and Gospel. Many churches present a Christianity of moralism, self improvement and self help, prosperous living, and more purposeful living, rather than teaching a faith in a God who rescues sinners from their sin by way of Christ’s great work on the cross in dying for them and giving Salvation as a free gift. There is a great need to shift away from salvation by works or performance based salvation in all its forms, even as subtle as it may be, and back to a salvation by Grace through Faith on account of Christ.
In spite of all the assaults on the Faith and inconsistencies within, Christianity has stood the test of time and it always will. May the Kingdom of God continue to advance and effect the lives of millions that Christianity will thrive in the mist of all forms of adversity by way of the correct and proper preaching of God’s Word.