Given that the internet sensation ‘Gangnam style’ has had over a billion hits on Youtube and spawned more parodies than I would care to mention then it got me thinking: what would a version of the song about Christianity look like? Regrettably, I am no lyricist so my answer will have to be given with ponderous words; lacking, to the relief of us all, any form of dance moves.
By Christian Style I mean a certain way of doing Christianity, a way that has no substance, its light and frothy, comfortable in the wrong sense, a way characterised by show, a pretence at the real thing. It’s when we say we’re Christian but we do not act like Christians, it’s the easy path not the hard path of obedience, and it is often our default setting for the Christian walk.
The following list is by no means exhaustive but I hope it is challenging, I’ve found it hard to write. As we begin this, at every point then I encourage you to ask yourself: do you have Christian style?
The Christmas season is one of the few times of the year when people who ordinarily would not be seen dead in a church will go and sing some carols because, hey, it's Christmas! Sadly, such are the times that we live in that it is likely that they will go to a church that does not preach the gospel; or rather they will preach a gospel but it will not be the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ but a false gospel that instead of pointing them in the direction of salvation will usher people towards hell.
This is a great evil, as Paul writes: "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!" (Galatians 1v8) It matters not if the intentions were good or if the church has the most noble of purposes, if a false gospel is preached then the speaker heaps condemnation on himself.
What follows are some of the common false gospels that will be preached in churches this Christmas. I probably should add from the start that most are fairly subtle but that makes them all the worse for they are more likely to be believed. It must be of great delight to Satan that even when people do go into a church they only hear a corrupted gospel that does not proclaim the truth has is found in the Bible.
On the surface it may seem a strange statement: how can one spread the good news of Jesus Christ dying for the sins of the world wrong? Well, obviously you could start sprouting heresy and that would be a problem but let’s say that what you’re saying is theologically correct then is it still possible to be going about things the wrong way?
My answer would be yes and sadly I would have to go further and say that the church today, as a general rule, has lost the plot when it comes to spreading the gospel. I realized this the other year at the CU carol service after I regretted bringing my non-Christian friend along because while what he heard was technically speaking completely true he didn’t hear what he needed to hear because the speaker didn’t tell him what he should have told him. My friend heard a lot about Jesus and how he died for us and how much Jesus loved him and how much Jesus wanted him to be saved which is all good and right and true and also entirely useless.
My friend currently thinks he does not need to be saved because his family religion and general good works will save him. This, I imagine, puts him into a similar situation to a lot of people today. So telling him about how much Jesus loved him only served to reinforce his self-righteousness. What my friend needed to hear because he is unwilling to admit it is how much of a wretched, miserable, filthy, vile, corrupted sinner he is standing before a perfect holy God. He needed to be told of Hell, judgement and the dangers of not repenting, he needed to be told that his desperate need was for Jesus.
This example serves well to illustrate the failure of a lot of modern evangelism:
If you pop over to my church's website right here then you'll find three great sermons to listen to.
The first is on Satanic Oppression and the reality of the unseen powers we fight against but how God limits them and Christ is victorious over them!
The next is on God's Fatherly discipline of his people for their holiness and how we should not grow weary under the difficulties of life. Based on Hebrews 12.
And the third is on Repentance - it's a two part-er on Psalm 51 and David's repentance over his adultery and murder.
These sermons, in my biased opinion, perfectly illustrate the reason why Reformed theology is so needed and that the evangelical church misses so much by straying from its doctrines.
The reason I say this is because these sermons deal with the hard reality of Christian living. Behind each sermon is a recognition that we are, even as those saved, still extremely sinful! More, that Satan is a very real and present danger and that God's love for us compels him to take action against the sin in our lives.
I've felt the need of being encouraged recently and these sermons have been a real meeting place of the soul with Christ, by his grace we feasted together and I have gone away refreshed!
We have not known Thee as we ought,
Nor learned Thy wisdom, grace and power;
The things of earth have filled our thought,
And trifles of the passing hour.
Lord, give us light Thy truth to see,
And make us wise in knowing Thee.
We have not feared Thee as we ought,
Nor bowed beneath Thine awful eye,
Nor guarded deed and word and thought,
Remembering that God was nigh.
Lord, give us faith to know Thee near,
And grant the grace of holy fear.
We have not loved Thee as we ought,
Nor cared that we are loved by Thee;
Thy presence we have coldly sought,
And feebly longed Thy face to see.
Lord, give a pure and loving heart
To feel and know the love Thou art.
We have not served Thee as we ought,
Alas, the duties left undone,
The work with little fervor wrought,
The battles lost or scarcely won!
Lord, give the zeal, and give the might,
For Thee to toil, for Thee to fight.
When shall we know Thee as we ought,
And fear and love and serve aright?
When shall we, out of trial brought,
Be perfect in the land of light?
Lord, may we day by day prepare
To see Thy face and serve Thee there.
_ There are many people who would describe Christianity as a restriction on life and on a certain level they have a point. The Bible does lay out a standard of living that is partly a list of don’ts: don’t get drunk, don’t worship other gods, don’t respond to violence with violence, don’t have sex before marriage, don’t gossip, don’t lie, don’t steal, don’t be lazy, don’t give way to sin, etc. And if there wasn’t enough the Bible also lays out a list of does: be obedient to Christ, be pure, be holy, love God, love others, do good deeds, give cheerfully, go to church, be encouraging, rebuke error, rejoice in God, pray, read the Bible, take communion, etc.
In a certain way it is of no surprise that people view Christianity often as a prison, a religion that limits choice, stops people having ‘fun’, narrows the options down and chains people to an outdated morality. But, and this is a big but, the reality is completely different. Christianity doesn’t enslave it frees, obedience to Christ is not a restriction it is life in all its fullness, denying ourselves to follow Christ is not a chain but a hammer that breaks chains in two.
“Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.”
John 8 v 34
Even the most superficial of inspections into the state of Britain’s society reveals a growing darkness that is hard to ignore. To describe it is difficult if only because it is hard to know where to start. If we start at the top we find that the world of politics is fill of corruption, hypocrisy and a lack of conviction this is accompanied by a growing apathy and cynicism of the voting public faced with failing party after another. More so, the state still views itself as the solution to all of the problems of life as though it were some deity itself. Naturally, this is only going to end badly. In every sphere of society new corruption is coming to light, in sport, journalism, the military, NHS, etc
The problems this nation faces are very real. We live in an age of increasing individualism and a lessening of community; consumerism and materialism are rampant and the message still hasn’t hit home that more stuff can never equal more happiness; whole generations now define a good weekend by getting so drunk they can’t remember it; sex outside of marriage is now a norm not a shock; today’s culture is saturated in lust which is used to sell just about anything; child sacrifice is applauded as a mother’s ‘right’ to choose to abort her baby largely for reasons of ‘convenience’; homosexuality is becoming normalised and institutionalised but all these things, terrible though they might be, are nothing compared to the underlying problem.
“For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ‘unclean’”
Matthew 15 v 19 – 20
The reaction to my last post on ‘This Little Light’ was mixed. Some liked what I had to say, other didn’t, some felt guilty and one person told me I was a rubbish Christian. It might have been more effective if he/she had had the courage to leave a real name. Someone else complained I’d watched an old video so I watched the new one and realised that a) selling the ‘gospel’ through back flips were still there b) the morality/good works gospel was even more evident and c) it was still resoundingly pathetic and d) it was three times more ethnically diverse.
Anyways, I thought to try and clear the air a bit and in an effort to persuade people just how shallow ‘This Little Light’ is I’d look at a contemporary song that was also successful. Say hello then to ‘East to West’ by Casting Crowns.
Just as a quick point – this is far from the best Christian song I could have chosen. There are many others which are even better. But I chose ‘East to West’ because it was released recently (2007), was a success (25th in US charts) and is by a popular Christian band.
Last week I wrote about the Wishy Washy Gospel and how it omits key areas of biblical truth. I wrote about how it is evil for it refuses to acknowledge the existence of sin, Hell and the absolute sovereignty of God. I would rather an unconverted person grew up an atheist than under the devious lies of the Wishy Washy Gospel.
What I want to concentrate on today is the evils of the Wishy Washy Gospel to the Christian. For make no mistake, if we accept what we are taught then we live by it. And if we live by the Wishy Washy Gospel we become Wishy Washy Christians.
Oh, oh, oh, I know this one, I know this one: No.
Of course not, it is a ridiculous idea that a dead person could ever choose to be alive. Why then am I asking this question? Have I grown so tired of my blog I’ve taken to asking self evident questions in the hope that someone will try and block my site for abusive content again?
Not quite. But there are some in the church who maintain that dead people can indeed choose to come alive. Here, let me explain:
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.”
Ephesians 2 v 1
We see Paul repeating a common theme that non-believers are dead in their sins. By this he doesn’t mean physically dead but spiritually dead. As if to reinforce his point Paul says a few verses later:
“Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.”
Ephesians 2 v 12