Friday, June 21, 2013

Who is Jesus and What is His Message?

So let us begin once again. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. No man can come to the Father but through Him. That is the gospel. That is the foundation of our faith. But so often we have molded that truth to accommodate our lives and disenfranchise the lives of others. What would you say to this scenario?

A man murders ten people. Another man murders fifty people. The man who murdered ten gets saved by faith in Jesus, but he now claims that the man who murdered fifty is a major league sinner who God really hates. The saved man cannot stop murdering altogether but now the man who murdered ten now only murders one at a time, but he claims that unless the one who murdered fifty stops murdering altogether he cannot be saved. You see, his view of redemption carries with it a quantitative essence concerning murder. He contends that certain murders or a certain quantity of murders are special cases with God as it pertains to the gospel of redemption.

Now redemption is either free through faith or it has some works caveats. And the gay issue has been adopted by the evangelical church as the major issue. Forget about all the sinners who come to faith in Jesus who still cling to unforgiveness, greed, lust, addictions, nationalism, and an impressive array of all sorts of sins. But if they have same sex attractions they are funneled off into a different redemptive room where they will be interrogated fully concerning their variety of sin and what they plan to do about it.

A major part of this view has to do with a misrepresentation of repentance. It is widely assumed that unless a sinner forsakes his sin, and in particular certain unseemly sins, that he cannot come to Christ. This theology equates repentance with forsaking and that is a classic and self righteous perspective. How many sins and which sins must be completely forsaken before salvation is legitimate or even made available? I have dealt with the issue of repentance HERE.

What then is the pristine and uncompromised essence of salvation? It is exclusively through Jesus Christ without one single shred of human works. No, not one. Most “orthodox” believers would agree that feeding the poor or clothing the naked or ministering to the earthly needs of people regardless of how noble are not a part of salvation and the gift of eternal life. But some of those same people would require someone to forsake, or completely stop, certain sins before that sinner can be saved or at least after he has been saved to be fully vetted as a authentic believer. That again has subtly and surreptitiously carried the works of man into the equation.

The Lord knows those that are His and only the Lord knows with complete certainty. But do not believe that your experience is at odds with the salvation experience of others. All of us have fallen far short of what we could be and surely of what we should be. All of us have sinned in thought, word, and deed even after we were converted and even on our most spiritual day. This is not a license to sin, but it is an illumination of God’s grace. But by culling out a certain sin which has never tempted us and holding that sin as the gold standard of true repentance by insisting it must be completely overcome is measurably self righteous.

Paul tells us that we are not to sin so that grace can more abound, but neither does Paul claim to be sinless. And somewhere between those two pillars is the experience of a true pilgrim of Jesus Christ. This redemption issue is a matter of the heart and it belongs to God. There are fruits, but in all of us there are many, many fruits which should be there but are not. The group called Exodus probably had good intentions, however they came across a very strange phenomenon. The same sex attractions that they attempted to eradicate would not stay eradicated. And much of the church will not accept a person as a true believer who continues to have them.

If true redemption eradicates all same sex attractions than why does it not eradicate the attractions for the scantily clad woman or the attractions for greed or the attraction toward self righteousness? We should all walk in holiness, but since even the most surrendered among us still sin we all need God's grace before and after conversion. If a person stands up and claims Jesus was not God, or that only through their church can people be saved, or some other unbiblical doctrine than we can assume that person does not know Christ. But it is quite another thing to measure a person’s conversion with a ruler that that we so often do not apply to ourselves.

I have never met a Christian who lives in the west who has not been infected by the culture and therefore sins by omission and by commission. Just observing the way we spend and borrow and save money is observably unbiblical, and yet no one questions our salvation. Committed believers buy cars and homes which are way above their actual needs. Our closets are full of clothes we do not need or even wear. We purchase things just because of the changing styles the world has laid down. We watch television as an addiction and yet the prayer chambers are almost empty. Believers by the millions speak hateful words about political figures they despise and also about Muslims and yet these same believers affirm themselves because they are for traditional marriage.

The church is full of men and women who are divorced and remarried and who are openly welcomed into the fold. Preachers play many hours of golf each week and most do not spend that amount of time in prayer and yet no one questions their conversion. How many saved men look at pornography each week including preachers? My point being if you conclude that anyone who is committing sins on a regular basis cannot be saved then there are no saved sinners at all. But the church has turned a blind eye to its own sins and now plays pin the tail on the gay sinner. The local church has borrowed millions from the heathen banks and pays horrific and obscene amounts of interest to the same world which lends to abortion clinics and gay enterprises, and the church feels no hypocrisy about itself. And yet we all sing worship songs and consider ourselves saved to the uttermost. But we can affirm each other by demanding gay people come completely in line and begin to feel different sex attractions and never waver.

We as believers must first take personal inventories as to how the grace of God has and continues to work in our lives. This utopian view of our own spirituality is a mirage and is based largely upon our heterosexual credentials as well as our national patriotism. How shallow can it get? But we have consistently spiraled into a self righteous collection of Americans who spout out our brand of morality, and while rejecting gay people because of their sin we are copulating with the money system of our fallen culture.

In the end we are faced with a question and indeed a quest that should have long ago been discovered and implemented within the hearts and lives of those who believe in and strive to follow the Son of man and of God. Who is Jesus, what was His mission, and what does He call His followers to? Oh but would you not think those questions would be not only clearly laid out in our statements of faith, but also observably manifested in our lives? Yes we can cling to the legalistic demands that breed self righteousness and a clique mentality. Yes we can state our case for moral issues and a desire for a fallen culture to become less fallen. Yes we can display our doctrinal credentials which give Scriptural clarity about the divinity of Christ Jesus.

But even after all those truths and moral pronouncements, we are still left with a colossal vacuum which if not filled renders our faith one of words and not deeds. Hold your breath for a moment and incline your ears. Listen as the constant static and drone of exhaled wind is manipulated and sent out as a steady stream of words. Words, words, and more words. Men and women are addicted to talk shows and form opinions based largely upon what their favorite talk show hosts say and make them think.

But this is not the company which is walking in His steps. What has been created in these times is a shadow, a ghost, and a pitiful projection of some kind of religion which uses His name but which bears no resemblance to He Who walked the pages of the gospel narratives. This is not Jesus. This is man masquerading as someone called Jesus. But if we truly wish to spread His message of redemption then we will have to become less obsessed with the sins of men and more obsessed with the souls of men.

Robert McCheyne, that faithful Scottish preacher, shared this story of servant hood and ministering the good news to sinners. About the beginning of the 1800’s there were many lepers in the continent of Africa. It was a miserable disease and most contagious. There were many camps to which lepers must go and live and be removed from society.
One day a missionary from England happened to be on a hilltop in South Africa, and as he glanced over the wall that surrounded the leper camp he saw two lepers plowing a filed. One had lost his hands to this horrible and painful disease while the other had lost his feet. The one without hands was carrying the one without feet, and they would stop at each pre-dug hole in the field. The one with hands, riding on the other’s back, would drop a seed into the hole while the other would cover it with dirt by his foot. The missionary was undone. Who could, who would go and be a gospel servant for such as these?
Two young boys, Moravian missionaries, heard about the situation. They began to pray, and both boys felt the leading of the Spirit to go into the leper village and be Jesus to these pitiful souls. They knew the consequences. Once a person enters such a village they were forbidden to come out again. It was a death sentence. But both boys did not hesitate since they were both convinced by the Spirit that this was to be the filed to which they were called.
Those two boys willingly and humbly forsook their entire lives and went to preach to and love these people. And through their example the Spirit drew others that hoped they may soon join them. That my friends is servant hood. That is the faith once delivered to the saints. That is Jesus.

My friends, if we ever hope to find and serve the Savior we profess we will have to walk into the leper colony that surrounds us and forsaking all that we have and all that we are, we must reach out to them with the love of Jesus. Regardless of the sin or the sinner, the gospel must come forth through our lips and lives without respect to our reputation or even our very lives. Jesus didn’t just love sinners of all genres. He died for them. It is time for the church to die once again through His wounds and walking out of His tomb we must carry the flame of redemption to every creature, even to the uttermost parts of the world. If you are worried about the decline of the culture than you can go to the voting booth. But if you are concerned with the eternal destiny of those within the culture than you must go to the empty tomb and receive His power.

The redemption of Jesus when spoken and lived carries with it the power of the universe which can secure eternal life for the vilest sinners among us. The Spirit awaits our crucifixion so that His crucifixion can go forth.


Cherie c. said...

I have had it wrong all this time. Dear God what I thought repentance was and is, is wrong.

I now look at my husband and sons quite differently. Quick, go look up the word fool and my picture will be there.

So even when I fall weak to my flesh at times, I'm still saved? I haven't falken from Grace? Please don't get my hopes up if this is not true!

When the Lord places on my heart to pray for someone I believe I'm saved. When I succumb to my flesh I think I'm not. What's wrong with me? Will I ever get it it right? Repentance, as I was taught, was the ceasing of the sin you repented of only to do it again. It's this what Paul meant when he said, the things I would fo, I fo not; that which I do not I do, or something like that.

Pastor, any more thought regarding a youtube type preaching or church? I can help with this. So miss bring taught the Word and fellowship. Especially on the Lord's day. Please let me know. With all that is going on these days I fear that the Word of God will be taken away or changed so much that the truth gets obliterated. I use Bible gateway, but they add more and more translations of the Bible all the time. I went out and bought a bound Bible to keep with me so that I'm never without His Word.

Thank you Pastor, brothers in Christ for you teaching, I wish it could be more. So much to learn, so very much.

The driver and bridge analogy hit the point home quite well about repentance.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Rick Frueh said...


Anonymous said...

Thank you Lord and Amen.

"But if we truly wish to spread his message of redemption then we will have to become less obsessed with the sins of men and more obsessed with the souls of men". Thank you Bro. Rick. This is the crux of it.

Some element in the church has declared a war on gays. There is no doubt in my mind that this element has a seared conscience and have no love, their love has waxed cold. Do they realize their words and condemnation has caused gay suicides?

Another point I see here is that this element in the church, these christians who unleash their accusations towards gays are basically standing in the court shouting at the world for their sins. They stand and yell and accuse and publicly scrutinize and condemn the secular world, those who've never been introduced to Jesus Christ.

Is this what our Lord meant when He told his apostles and disciples to go into the world and spread His message? Were they to stand on mountaintops and scream "hellfire" to the heathen?

The church, however, is instructed, in the epistles, to teach and preach to one another and keep the sheep in check and remind them of what constitutes sin and to keep ourselves prayed up and ready for conviction of the Holy Spirit, and yes, we are to forfeit all the sins that are commanded to in the epistles. But these instructions are to those already in the Church. God has ordained preachers and teachers to lead by example and Word to the world AND to christians.

I've never heard of a christian believer who is not a preacher, but who works in the secular world, speak to a studio audience or a radio audience or use the world as it's platform to exploit certain groups and taint them as godless sinners like they do today; towards those who yet do not believe. Yes, they are sinners, as we all once were and fall, and are.

I know that if I hadn't had the gentle correction and love of born-again christians who I had befriended, I may have been totally turned off by "church". How many are being told they can never enter the Kingdom of Heaven? How many are turned off from ever seeking Jesus because certain followers of Jesus point their fingers in their face and blame them for natural disasters on the land?

What I see: Churched christians publicly outraged against a human being's physical essence. It's true that some people just decide they want to experiment and that is sin. But, I don't hear these christians accuse the college kids of doing March Break and going wild. Crickets. The thing is, it's easier to choose not to do March Break than it is to choose not to have same-sex attractions. Do these churched christians stand outside rehab centers and condemn those entering and exiting? Do they stand outside brothels and yell and scream at staff and clients, condemning them to hell? Do they congregate around mosques and synagogues and yell and scream that they are destined for a fiery hell?

It's interesting that Jesus talked about hell, but it was when he addressed the religious hypocrites and pharisees. When he addressed sinners, he spoke of God's forgiveness and spoke of eternal life - he didn't yell and scream at them about how they'd burn in hell forever.

All I can see with this newfound witchhunt by some in the church towards gays is that they are turning young teens away from ever contemplating learning about the true shepherd again. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want, I shall not want, He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the path of righteousness for His Name's sake."


Annette said...

Wow, J., I have never seriously pondered the points of your post. Very strong points, indeed. Addressing the double mindedness of mankind can literally bring one to a screeching halt at the stop sign! And as I look behind me, I see the skid marks freshly disked into the gravel by the ATV tires, dust filling the can almost smell the stench of double mindedness. Then looking around to see if anyone is approaching, a thought races through the mind, "What in the world is man thinking, or are we really thinking at all?" And I agree with your comment concerning the love of man growing cold and ironically, I believe with an increased wealth of technology available at our findertips, the hearts and minds have morphed into a porverbial ice age.

After reading the Gospels before my surgery last year, these is a question I ponder often:

Annette said...

Perhaps most believers have asked this question as well...."What did Jesus write on the ground on that day the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman, taken in adultery, and set her in the midst of our Living Savior?"

"Jesus went unto the mount of Olives> And early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and He sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto Him a woman taken in adultry; and when they had set her in the midst, They say unto Him, "Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?" This they said, tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though He heard them not. So when they continued asking Him, he lifted up Himself, and said unto them, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."And again He stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last; and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up Himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, "Woman, where are those thine accusers: Hath no man condemned thee? She said, "No man, Lord." And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee; go, and sin no more."

Praise the Holy Name of Jesus.

God's Word speaks alone....and I am rendered speechless once again.

Anonymous said...

First, Cherie you did not cause me any distress, grief or loss of sleep. It is the Lord who taps me on the shoulder and says "Get up and talk to Me about what is going on."

Pastor, please correct me if this is off base or just wrong. While Jesus was praying fervently and with much distress before He was arrested, God was starting to lay the full weight of sin from the world, past, present and future, on Jesus. And Jesus still said to the Father that it was Father's will that should be done. If Jesus loved us that much to continue on to the cross, how then can we not have at least a small portion of love to carry that message to the unsaved?

But then again in your message, I need to continue to pull the logs out of my eyes before I can show someone how to remove their splinters.


Anonymous said...

Pastor Rick, why are you so focused on homosexuality? I am beginning to sense that we Christians are now the problem and those who are in bondage with this sin are not, as they are now the victim. Is it because our understanding of sin is incorrect, and we are too harsh concerning this particular sin. Just trying to understand where you are going with this constant condemnation of the church (concerning this sin). This is beginning to concern me.

Rick Frueh said...

Homosexuality is not the point which you seemed to have missed.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Joel, such strength of character is praiseworthy.

Anonymous 5:33, homosexuality is not being unfairly discussed on this website.

No one can be helped unless they realise the seriousness of their error. May the homosexual and lesbian community decide to discover pure hearted Jesus.

Reine Gnade