by Mike Ratliff
1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. (1 John 1:1-4 ESV)
What sort of Christian message is it that is not Christ centered? I listened to a sermon today by Ed Young Jr., Pastor of a church in Grapevine, TX, that was preached prior to Super Bowl Sunday. The church had advertised that there would be a drawing and giveaway of Super Bowl tickets at the end of the service that day. Of course it was nothing more than an “bait and switch” project to get people to come to church so they might win the tickets. The stated reason for doing this was so they would hear the gospel preached. I listened to the sermon and I can tell you right now that the gospel was not preached. Jesus was mentioned maybe once or twice. The only mention of salvation in the sermon was Ed saying that God’s goal is to make everyone joyous and that all we have to do is have Jesus come into our lives so we can have that joy. There was no mention of sin as being the problem that makes salvation necessary to avoid the wrath of God. In fact, there was not one mention of God’s law nor Christ’s horrible death on the cross that atoned for the sins of God’s elect. All Ed said was that we must have Jesus come into our lives so we could have joy. He never once mentioned how that takes place. There was no mention of eternity. His sermon was all geared to living in this life joyously now rather than in a vain search for happiness.
While there were elements of truth in that sermon it did not qualify as a preaching of the gospel. Jesus was not even the central figure in that sermon. The people needing joy were central. God was seen as someone doling out joy to all who came to have Jesus enter their life. I tried to imagine myself as a nonbeliever in the auditorium hearing that drivel. Even though sermons like that are called “seeker-sensitive” they do not serve the role of bringing the lost into the Kingdom. Instead, they only confuse them.
Christ must be central to all that we teach or preach. The cross must be presented as God’s solution for Man lost in sin with no hope of salvation without His divine help by His grace. On top of this, I was very disturbed by the flippant treatment of my Saviour by Mr Young. Jesus Christ, my saviour and Lord, is God the Son. He is all God and all Man. To see Him treated as if He is a nothing more than an add-on to people’s life so they can have joy deeply offended me. Perhaps that was the Holy Spirit generating some Righteous Indignation! Let’s look at a real picture of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5 ESV)
Jesus Christ, the Word, is eternal. He was there at creation not created at creation. All life comes from Him. He is the only hope for Man. His light cannot be extinguished by the darkness of evil. Eternal life comes to men only through Christ. The focus of the gospel is this, not that men can have joy, but that the purpose of gospel is to accomplish God’s plan to save those chosen before the foundation of World.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14 ESV)
There is nothing haphazard about the gospel. All those God saves must come through Christ. When they do they are adopted into God’s family as Christ’s brothers and sisters. All in Christ are forgiven of their trespasses according to God’s grace. All things are united in Christ. Again, is the purpose of the gospel to make people joyous? I read in that passage above that God is glorified in this and that is the purpose of His wonderful plan whereby He saves us who deserve nothing but Hell.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. (John 1:6-8 ESV)
Before Jesus started His ministry, His forerunner was sent to prepare the way. Of course, he was John the Baptist. What was his message? He came as a witness to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. His message was a call to repent. If we study John and his ministry don’t we see that Jesus’ Incarnation was the most profound and impacting event since creation? It was so important that John was called to prepare the way. Jesus said of John that he was the greatest ever born of women. John’s message was used by God to prepare the hearts of the people for Jesus’ ministry. Did God do all of this so He could make people joyous?
9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:9-13 ESV)
Jesus came to the Jews, but most of them rejected Him. However, many did believe. These were those whom God saved and adopted as His children. They were saved according to God’s will not their own will nor that of anyone else. Did they give Jesus a tryout so they could have some of His joy?
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. (John 1:14-18 ESV)
Jesus Christ is God. He is the Word who became flesh. He is both God and Man and the center of God’s eternal plan of salvation which required a perfect sacrifice to take Man’s place to endure His Wrath. God’s Law was broken by Men. All Men are born dead in their trespasses and sins as a result of that crime. The Word became a Man to live a perfect life in complete obedience to God’s Law. He is the Lamb of God completely flawless and unblemished. He laid His life down to pay the price for our sins. His death was horrible yet He sacrificed Himself willingly in obedience to the Father’s will. To flippantly use Jesus as an add-on so people can have a little joy in their lives is a huge slap in the face to my dear Lord and Saviour.
My brethren, the misuse of our saviour this way should break our hearts as well as light a fire in our hearts full of righteous indignation. What should we do? Let’s start at the throne of grace. Let’s take our petitions to God, in brokenness and humility. Seek His face and implore Him to send His fires of Revival into His church. It will be only by a moving of the Holy Spirit that preachers like Ed Young, Jr will be silenced in shame. I heard from a dear brother in Christ from India last night who told me that this “seeker-sensitive” nonsense is everywhere in the church in his country. That is heartbreaking as well. The Compromised Church is worldwide now. Come soon Lord Jesus!
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