C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

We Believe in God, But Pick What We Believe

This morning, while taking a look at a few articles regarding surveys dealing with religion among different generations, I can’t help but wonder if there is indeed a common strand which connects the results.

In the report Buddhist Tiger Woods may be as Christian as many Americans, the writer recalls the comments of Tiger from 1996, of which he said “I believe in Buddhism. Not every aspect, but most of it. So I take bits and pieces. I don't believe that human beings can achieve ultimate enlightenment, because humans have flaws." – and compares it to the line of modern day thinking from professing Christians, that it appears okay to mismatch ideals from within and without Christianity.

Such thoughts among confessing Believers makes itself apparent in that Some Presbyterians see salvation in non-Christian faiths, finding “that 36% of members disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement: "Only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved." Another 39%, or about two-fifths, agreed or strongly agreed with the statement.” As Perry Chang, administrator of the Presbyterian Panel, admits, "There seems to be some universalist streak in Presbyterianism, where some Presbyterians are open to the idea of other paths that folks in other faiths might be taking." And this is not merely among average pew sitters, for “More pastors disagreed (45%) than agreed (35%) and a majority of specialized clergy (60 percent) disagree.”

In claiming Young adults 'less religious,' not necessarily 'more secular', the survey seems to find “Millennials are significantly more likely than young adults in earlier generations to say they don't identify with any religious group.” The statics shows 53% trust God does exist, with 40% claiming to speak with Him daily in prayer, but a mere 18% actually attend church regularly (i.e. weekly).

Coming to the Survey: 72% of Millennials 'more spiritual than religious', we find 65% do not attend church, 67% don’t read their Bibles, and 38% seldom pray; which leads to the revelation that “Many are unsure Jesus is the only path to heaven: Half say yes, half no.” Of course, it is telling when we read “68% did not mention faith, religion or spirituality when asked what was "really important in life."” – “Even among those in the survey who "believe they will go to heaven because they have accepted Jesus Christ as savior."”

Anyone will attest that surveys may not be inclusive 100% of all persons or statics presented, but they are not without merit. In the above, we see (at least with those polled) that although there is a claim that God does exist, those same persons (% wise) do not find attendance in His house (i.e. Sunday School or Worship Service) to be equally essential, or the necessity to speak with Him in prayer and read His Word. Basically: belief without relationship. It would be like one claiming they know their parent(s) are alive, but they never (or seldom) call or visit them. That would not be considered a healthy family relationship. It would be an estranged one.

So, what is the common strand that seems to connect each of these – at least for me? Belief is not the same as faith and practice. James tells us (2:19) “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble,” and goes on to expose the reality that a claim of belief is not the same as an active faith in Christ which produces a lifestyle of Christianity. What I gather from the above links, along with many conversations I have had with persons I know and don’t know, is that many profess a belief in God, even having possibly “prayed the prayer” (finding eternal security in one act, establishing it as a work for salvation rather than it being of grace), but have no interest in reading and studying the Scriptures, or listening to it being expounded upon by a pastor or teacher.

It should not be surprising to notice an embrace of a pool of thoughts (when it comes to religion/spirituality), mixed from many realms of theology and ideology, when persons refuse (or fail to make time) to pray and seek the wisdom and discernment found in the Bible (by reading, studying, and hearing it preached and taught). Christians and non-Christians alike may fall prey to this, as we fail to give importance to God and His Word in active living. When we fail to ensure a faithful relationship with God through prayer, without a correct understanding and acceptance of His wisdom and authority through Scripture, and ignore an active faith in Christ following his lifestyle (all by the power of the Holy Spirit), we need to examine our estranged relationship, acknowledge we cannot simply create our own witches brew of truths, and repent by spending more time in the things of God (the one whom we claim to believe in, and whom will ultimately grant us eternal life).

If we have no time for God now, why should He grant us an eternal life with him? May we repent of our selfish lies, and embrace the truth at our very finger tips. Believing “I take bits and pieces” here and there is basically creating one’s on religion, inserting themselves in the place of God, and becoming their own final authority, which will not hold up in court at the Great White Throne Judgment.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Born Again, Again? Unto Homosexuality, Really?

Sadly, we read of yet another ‘Christian musician’ who claims to continue to hold true to Christianity in one hand, while grasping homosexuality in the other. Some time back it was Ray Boltz, and today it is Jennifer Knapp. Is it not puzzling how we can claim to serve God as faithful servants, while embracing that which He condemns in His holy word? Such is not limited to Christian musicians or to homosexuality, but to openly ask or demand the world (or fans) to embrace the blatant hypocrisy as being humble seems quite self-serving.

Jennifer states: "I hope that the defiance does come across as humble," she explained. "If there's any frustration, it's trying to politely break the yoke of being asked to be something that I just can't be, and with all humility go: 'Just please be kind when you discover the truth.' It's kinda all you can do."

Yet boasts: "I'm definitely getting a lot more friendly winks from the girls (at her concerts) than I have in the past!"

And jokes: "Anyone who has a decade of celibacy has 'complete loser' written on their back” – ‘although she still respects those who do abstain.’

At least, she declares (regarding her new CD), "I just wouldn't find it respectful at all to say, 'Hey, this is something that you want in your store next to your Jesus statue,'" she said. "It would just be disingenuous to try and convince someone that they needed to do that."

“Still, Knapp considers herself a "person of faith" and recoils at the suggestion that she is turning her back on the church”… so, I ask, if living a lifestyle contrary to scripture does not constitute a life of immorality and turning ones back on the truth of God… what does?

When we sin, we are choosing to disobey, rebel, dishonor, and reject the truth and wisdom of scripture (God’s holy word). How else can we describe our actions and current state as any other way but turning our back on God, the church, our faith? Though one may sing with the voice of an angel, marvelous songs of praise to God and our Savior Jesus Christ, it is but naught having a life in opposition to it.

How sad, though no longer surprising, to hear professing Christians describe the biblical Christian lifestyle as a “yoke of being asked to be something that [one] just can't be”, yet oddly feel completely free to live a life contrary to it. May we all judge ourselves, aligning ourselves with the testimony of Jesus Christ and the word of God, repenting of the broad way wherewith with have walked, and return yet again unto the straight and narrow path of righteousness.

John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.