Sunday, April 12, 2009

Resurrection day!

The purpose of trusting in Christ is for forgiveness of sins, because it is from sin that we need to be saved. “Christ died for our sins” and “was buried, and … raised on the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). If Christ was not raised, His death was in vain, your faith in Him would be pointless, and your sins would still be counted against you with no hope of spiritual life.

Without question, if Jesus is still in the grave, if He is perpetually the sufferer and never the Victor, then you and I are hopelessly lost. What if Jesus Christ were still dead and in the grave?

Since a Christian has no Savior but Christ, no Redeemer but Christ, and no Lord but Christ, if Christ is not raised, He is not alive, and our Christian life is lifeless. We would have nothing to justify our faith, our Bible study, our preaching or witnessing, our service for Him or our worship of Him, and nothing to justify our hope in this life or the next. We would deserve nothing but the compassion reserved for fools.

But, God did raise “Jesus our Lord from the dead, He who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification” (Romans 4:24-25). Because Christ lives, we too shall live (John 14:19). “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:30-31).

We are not to be pitied, for Paul wrote “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20). As Paul said at the end of his life, “I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him [i.e. his life] until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).

Those who do not hope in Christ alone for salvation are the real fools; they are the ones who need to hear your compassionate testimony about the triumph of Christ’s resurrection. So don’t forget resurrection day! Rejoice in it and glory in it, for He is risen indeed!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Saddleback Silliness

I'm sorry, but this is sad. This is a rather bizarre invitation from Rick Warren to the people in or near his church. “1. Open your heart to Jesus Christ. 2. Attend Class 101: Discovering Your Church Family. 3. Sign our membership covenant (explained in class). 4. Be baptized the way Jesus commanded and modeled for us. YOU CAN FINISH ALL 4 REQUIREMENTS IN ONE DAY - THIS SATURDAY!”

Forgive me as I really haven't paid attention to ole Rick lately and what he's up to. But, can you get any more seeker sensitive in trying to pad our pews? I don’t know which is worse (on Warren’s blog), the four requirements you can get done in one day or the eight reasons you should not procrastinate. Shouldn’t at least one of those eight reasons have something to do with Jesus Christ?! Every single one of them deal with "I" or "you"!! Sadly, the Saddleback piece is not an April Fool’s joke. 2400 attended and 800 were baptised according to the Baptist Press article about it. A big problem here is Warren’s emphasis is on joining HIS church - not THE church. Rick Warren will PERSONALLY teach the class and PERSONALLY baptize everyone.

I'll never be anyone's final judge, but it seems to me that if you're coerced to "give your life" to Jesus because Rick is doing the teaching and baptizing, chances are you could be fooling yourself. (Matt. 7: 21-23) It seems hard to argue against wanting 3000 people to be saved, and of course I would be for that as well. But not herding them through like cattle and giving them the rubber stamp of approval just because they took a class, probably quoted a prayer, and was dunked under some water. That's nowhere in the Bible. Rick claims he's trying to have another day of Pentecost like what was described in Acts 2. Does he not realize that was the very birth of the Church?? This was what was promised in the Old Testament and which came to pass once Jesus died and rose again and ascended into Heaven to be at the Father's right hand, and was given authority over the Church (Ephesians 1). This is not something we just go about trying to reproduce with marketing gimmicks.

It might not be as bad either if so many people didn't see this man as "America's Pastor". I realize I sound cruel, I just think this sort of thing ought to be seriously looked at. We're not trying to fill out churches with tares, instead we should be obedient to what God has entrusted us to, and let HIM build HIS church. Is this not what He said He would do? (Matt. 16:18) My wife asked me (jokingly of course) that if this meant she could complete all of that on one day, and never have to come back? And, to wrap it all up, Rick claims that it was going to be FUN! I never thought realizing my sinfulness & mourning over it was fun. I never cease to thank God what He has done for me through His Son Jesus Christ, and that does bring me joy unspeakable. But realizing your need for a Savior, and submitting your whole life and will to Him, requires a little more than a half day seminar. It requires saving Faith. And let me close by saying that its a faith that only God Himself can give. (Ephesians 2: 8-9)