Fight for Joy! Blog
Where Jesus Changes Everything
“Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins”(John 8:24). A radical change—the Emerging (or Emergent) Church—continues to sweep evangelicalism. We are told this change is necessary if we are to reach the post-modern generation. Unfortunately, this change has left many Christians starving for God’s Word in their churches and chapels. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for these change agents to label as judgmental and out of touch those who resist the movement away from Christ-centered preaching and Bible teaching. The utterly shameful fact is this movement proclaims a different gospel from that of the Apostles “once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3), and is deceiving many with a false hope. For Emerging Church leaders, the Bible is more about doing good works, as God’s people, for the benefit of all people; it is not about revealed truth. A tragic result is they end up with a Jesus far removed from the one revealed in the Scriptures.
The false “gospel” being preached today says that Jesus came to save people from a lack of purpose, lack of happiness, or from living a stress filled and problem filled existence. The New Testament pattern is gospel preaching (which includes the person and work of Christ and the need to repent and believe) followed by nurturing the flock with the whole counsel of God. The gospel must answer four questions—who Jesus is, what He did, why we need Him, and what He expects us to do. Otherwise, Jesus said, “you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). This is a far cry from the “gospel” preached by Emergents. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again—a lot of things in life we can get wrong, but not this. Eternity is at stake. So the question is, “Who is Jesus and Why does it Matter?”
Paul told the Philippians of Christ’s pre-existence with God and as God : “He existed in the form of God” (2:6). In his second letter to the Corinthian believers he wrote it is Satan who “has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (4:4). So, Jesus is God who became human without ceasing to be God. But what did He do? Paul wrote, “Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8). Jesus died for yours’ and my sins, which answers the next question—why do we need Him? To the Roman believers Paul wrote, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…For the wages of sin is death” (3:23; 6:23). We need Christ’s atoning death and subsequent resurrection because we need His righteousness over our own to be found blameless before a holy God. So, what are we to do? Exactly what He expects us to do: “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved…for whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Rom. 10:9, 13). This is the gospel—but you won’t hear it in any “Emerging” congregation nor will you read it in any “Emergent” manifesto. For some strange reason, the gospel of Jesus Christ is not boldly preached, the message of the blood atonement is overlooked, and the verse-by-verse teaching of God’s Word is absent. Perhaps this is because it really is offensive to preach Christ Jesus and Him crucified.
So why does it matter? Because, “having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31). The certainty of future judgment is the reason Paul laid before us the necessity of repentance. This is in keeping with Jesus’ words, “for unless you believe I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). Like Jesus, Paul proclaimed that we must “repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance” (Acts 26:20). In other words, it is not merely mental assent to certain facts about Jesus. It is belief that results in lives actually changed. Regardless of the radical change taking place around us, the gospel will always remain the same—that Jesus died, was buried, and was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (see 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). And it is faith in this crucified, risen, ascended Lord that is required of all who desire salvation. This is the message of the Apostles—“God is commanding all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30). There are no exceptions.
You are welcome to leave comments and you don't have to necessarily agree with me. However, I expect a civil tone and charitable spirit. We can disagree with one another without being disagreeable. "Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt." (Colossians 4:6)
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