Currents of popular opinion sweep about us like whitewater waves swirling down the narrow ravine of everyday living.
They threaten to sweep us off our feet into the wild seas of disillusionment and disappointment, though we strive to cling to things on which we can count. When we finally find the “rock” of love and mercy that Jesus is to those who believe in Him, we finally discover a firm place to plant our feet, a solid rock on which we stand.
But then calamities of one kind or another come and they threaten to pry the fingers of faith loose even as a subtle, yet pernicious, erosion works at weakening our confidence in the words of hope that God has spoken to us.
Sadly, such waves seem appealing at times and we find it all too easy to give in to pressures and promptings. At times we not only allow ourselves to be carried along blindly by those streams of wild thoughts and reckless ideas, but we revel in them, at least until we are finally cast upon the jagged rocks of brokenness and ruin.
Even more sad are those occasions when messages urging the abandonment of truth come to us under the mask of Christian leadership. There are those who advocate from the pulpit of popularity a “gospel” that is not really a gospel: a good news that is not truly “good news,” but is instead a dangerous deception.
For example, there are books and blogs that suggest that they are Christian, but pick up the threads of spiritual relativism and basically tells us that much of what we read in the Bible is untrue or is, at the very least, greatly misunderstood. They asserts that there are many ways to know God, be accepted by Him, and subsequently be ushered into an eternity of bliss. They claim that there is no hell (or final judgment of any kind), since hell is not commensurate with the authors’ and artists’ ideas of God.
These notions are not new ideas in circles of “Christian” thinking. They are simply re-introduced, refurbished and repackaged to look as though they are new messages for a new millennium.
One defender of this teaching claims that we in the contemporary world cannot understand what the Bible really means given its spiritual sophistication and the alien nuances of the cultures and languages that existed at the time of its writing.
Another writer who has advocated such “ticklish teachings” wonders “what if?” What if these notions are right? It seems to him that the cloudy ambiguities in this line of thinking are as reliable (if not more so) as the basic tenets of orthodox Christian teaching we have heard since childhood. Unfortunately, tossing “what if’s” into the mix of faith does not create a new sense of wonder and awe, but ultimately robs us of the assurance that the Bible is truly trustworthy. “What if the Bible isn’t right about hell?” “What if Jesus is A way to God but only one way among many?” “What if people can be ‘saved’ after death?”
While such ideas may give us momentary (but delusional) comfort when we are considering the plight of lost loved ones, they eventually steal from us that same comfort because the consistency of the Bible’s message has been compromised. Worse yet, in saying that teachings of the Word of God can’t be taken at face value, we find that the its overall message has been rendered incoherent. Because “hell” has been explained away, heaven is suddenly suspect. Because it is assumed that one does not need to receive Christ in this lifetime, Jesus is put off indefinitely. Because other ways to God than Jesus Christ have been introduced, Jesus is demoted from “Savior and Lord” to merely “teacher and friend”.
Let us not play games with God’s grace and let us certainly not minimize the urgency of the hour. Men and women today are as much in dire spiritual straits as were the people of the first century who recognized their sinfulness and the inevitable consequence of their unattended condition.
Realizing that a God Who is just can only confront sin with justice, dooming all of sin’s partakers to an eternity apart from Him, “they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself” (Acts 2:37-39 ESV).
The needs of people are the same today as they were then. Rich or poor, man or woman, young or old, black or white, people need Jesus; they need the power of His cross applied to their lives which comes only through a personal response of faith (which results in repentance and obedience to His Word); and they need Christians to proclaim the freedom found only in the truth of the Gospel of Christ.
Pastor Thom Mollohan leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at [email protected]