Why Love Isn’t Christianity In Its Most Basic Sense

Nov 07

Why Love Isn’t Christianity In Its Most Basic Sense

I preach a different sermon every Sunday. One of my fears is that while doing so, I’ll miss out sharing what is most important–the foundation of Christianity. What if I had only one sermon to teach people what Christianity was all about? What would the message be? It goes without saying that the central message of Christianity is Jesus. But what about Him? Well, my mind immediately goes to 1 Corinthians 13, where it says “These three remain: faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love.” So it would make sense that love is Christianity in it’s most basic sense. But I’m not sure that would be accurate. Most people consider themselves loving persons. “I love God. I love my family. I even try to love people who don’t like me.” Is this person a Christian? What makes someone a Christian? Is it love? While the greatest of these is love, it is not the first thing. One of the reasons love is “the greatest of these” is that it continues on through eternity. What first separates a Christian from a non-Christian is not whether they show love or not, but whether they have faith in Jesus or not. Faith and hope, however, are only for this life. In eternity, we will see Jesus with our eyes, not by faith or hope. But while we are on this earth, what first separates a Christian from a non-Christian is not whether they show love or not, but whether they have faith in Jesus or not. I am afraid that in today’s sensibilities, we have convinced ourselves that God ought to save those who are “loving” and “kind.” He should simply look past all the sins of people, and see only their good side. This is our idea of grace. In this view, one does not need to be a Christian to go to heaven. One must only be “good enough.” Or, another option in this view is that God will allow everyone into heaven. But Christianity does not teach either of those things. It teaches something completely different:  Repentance and faith. God’s looking for people who are willing to get real with their sinfulness and look to...

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Yes, Virginia, There Is A Hell

Mar 23

So now what? I find it funny that so much effort is being utilized to convince other Christians that there is indeed a hell. I’ve devoted several blog posts on the issue since leaving my former church. At times, I’ve grown frustrated in this endeavor, since Jesus and Scripture talk very clearly about its existence. I feel like I’ve written more about it than ought to be necessary. I wish we could stop debating its existence and move on to the implications. It’s like continually debating with someone whether there’s a God or not. There is, so let’s move on to what that means for our lives. This morning, I woke up to discover that David Platt (author of the book Radical) gave his take on the Rob Bell / Robbed Hell controversy. (Man, there are so many plays on words to make regarding this controversy, LOL.) Check out his video response here. His response reminded me of the same conclusion I came to myself when faced with people who laughed at me for my convictions regarding the Gospel and the reality of hell. Read it here. Like I said at the conclusion of that post, Christians have three options when it comes to the reality of hell: Reject the idea of hell, because it is too intolerable to believe any longer Somehow convince ourselves that everyone around us going to hell is tolerable Find it intolerable that everyone around us is going to hell, and do something about it Today, I’ll add a fourth option that is very similar to #1: Believe that there is a hell but that very few people are going there (just the “really, really bad” people throughout history that we don’t want to see in heaven). Sadly, that’s the opposite belief that Jesus taught (few are on the narrow road, and many are on the road to destruction). The lack of evangelization in my life is as disconcerting as those who reject the idea of...

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Who Lives Forever With God And Who Doesn’t?

Mar 22

With all of the discussion lately about who goes to heaven and who goes to hell, allow me to write some thoughts along these lines based on my recent readings of Romans. (By the way, Romans is one of the most theologically rich books in the Bible–so much has already been written about it, as it’s packed with so much in there. This is just part of what I’ve gleaned from a few parts of it.) According to the Christian faith, what is required for one to receive salvation from God? First, we must look closely at the wording of that question: salvation is something to be received. That means it comes from something/someone other than ourselves. We do not have the possibility of saving ourselves. We don’t save ourselves by deciding to obey God or by professing any creed. Rather, the only way we can be saved is if someone else saves us. We can’t take care of the problem ourselves. So if we can’t save ourselves, who can save us? Can my neighbor? No, because they too need saving just as much as myself. Everyone is in the same predicament. This is an important place to stop and reflect: Everyone is in the same predicament. We must remember this when we consider who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. Every one of us is under the rule of Sin, and as a result, eternal death is our fate. There are not evil people and good people. Under God’s standard of righteousness, there is NO ONE who is righteous, no not one. As a result, no one can be considered righteous–even if from this point on, I never sin again, my record is still blemished. Not only this, but that scenario is not at all possible, as sin is much more than just an act or deed done in isolation. Rather, sin has also changed the nature of who I am as a person. I am totally screwed up. (If you can’t admit this, that’s called pride.) The illustration of someone who has taken heroine is a good illustration of what sin does to us. Once you’ve taken it once, it alters your brain in such...

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Bell Tells Hell Farewell

Mar 17

…as pastors quell Bell who they claim fell and yell that they smell very well what he sells. What the shell? (that’s the only other word I could think of that rhymes) For me, the question is: Where the hell does Rob Bell stand? Hahahaha. A lot of controversy surrounds Rob Bell’s new book, and thanks to friends who have kept me in the loop (I have to rely on them, since I never got into Nooma, his books, or Bell himself), I’ve done my share of thinking about it. Without reading his book, and just judging by the interviews I’ve heard from him since he wrote his latest book, here’s what I conclude Rob Bell believes: If you’re an all-around nice person (i.e. obeying the golden rule, etc.), it doesn’t matter so much whether you believe that Jesus is the “Savior of the world” or not. After all, if you’re being kind to people like Jesus taught, you are actually bringing heaven to earth like Jesus wants you to. In the end, that’s really what matters to Jesus, not your religious affiliation. So don’t worry about all the nice people out there who have never heard of Jesus or all those nice people out there who refuse to believe He’s the savior of the world. They’re nice people–they will have made the world a little more like heaven, showing that they belong to heaven, regardless of their religious affiliation. Those who are not nice to people on earth are trying to make earth more like hell. They won’t succeed, because the power of love is stronger than their efforts. All they will be able to do is make their own life on earth more hellish. If you truly love people, it doesn’t matter what they try to do to make your life hell, they won’t be able to. In the end, those people who are trying to make life on earth more hellish will realize that it was a losing battle. They will then be forced to admit they were wrong and give in to the side of love. Two questions to consider now: Is this really what the Bible teaches? Is this really what Rob Bell teaches?...

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Jesus Isn’t Headed For Hell–But Everyone Else Is In Trouble With God

Jul 15

When people hear someone preaching that humanity is headed for hell unless they repent, most people take offense and say something along the lines of, “God is a God of love, but you are portraying Him to be the very opposite!” The funny thing is, this has always been God’s way of showing that He loves us. Because there is impending doom on the horizon, God clearly spells it out to warn us and encourage us to repent. It is all throughout the Old Testament in the history of Israel. It’s Peter’s first message on the day of Pentecost, the birth of the Church, when the Holy Spirit first came down. Look at the city of Ninevah. Wasn’t this God’s message to its inhabitants as well? That they were going to be destroyed by God! (Which is why God is accused of not being loving.) But what happened? They repented, and God’s deeper will (that all come to repentance) was fulfilled. You see, God really DOES love us, even though we are in serious trouble with Him if we don’t repent. This is why Jonah had run away to begin with–he knew the heart of God–that God would show mercy on repentant sinners. Remember: Jesus is coming back. The first time He came, the message was to repent and follow CHRIST (John the Baptist). It’s no different this time either. And remember this as well: It was the religious teachers who refused to be baptized by John. It was they who refused to believe that John’s message came from God. They also felt that it wasn’t necessary for them or their followers to follow Christ, subsequently. That’s because they thought God was pleased with their efforts at being good people as they followed their religion. These same people today are telling us that people who follow the world’s religions are ok with God because they are trying their best–“so stop judging them!” These religious “leaders “are fools. Why? Not only are they leading themselves away from God, but they are blindly leading many other blind people who look up to them into the same pit. These people take God’s message of repentance and surrender to Christ as a message...

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Attention Methodists: Andy Stanley Is A Baptist

Jun 15

Ok, so that’s really a lie. That is, unless you’re a Methodist and you are convinced that you’re a Baptist if you believe that everyone has an eternal destination in heaven or hell, and that it’s the Church’s responsibility to reach the unchurched so that they don’t go to hell–well, then that makes Andy Stanley a Baptist. Because that’s emphatically what he believes and is the sole reason why his church is 100% devoted to reaching the unchurched instead of worrying about trying to keep those who are already unchurched. That’s what he shared in his sermon yesterday. I’m afraid that this is a devastating blow to all Methodists out there who are trying their hardest not to be Baptist, and as a result don’t want to affirm that people go to hell if they aren’t reached with the Gospel. Now Methodists everywhere must make a decision–do I still want to model myself after a preacher whose church is modeled the way it is because he believes people are going to hell? Now they must abandon Andy Stanley–where else can they turn to for a model of ministry? They had to abandon their founder, John Wesley, long ago because he clearly was Baptist as well, as he also believed that the world is going to hell, unless they come to faith in Christ by believing the Gospel. Dear Methodists, Salvation, the Gospel, eternity in heaven and hell–these are NOT Baptist ideas. They are central to the Christian faith. If you indeed choose to continue modeling your church after North Point, don’t just model after the method–which is least important. Model yourself after the message. It’s the whole reason why North Point does what it does. To ignore this defeats the whole point of modeling yourself after his paradigm. If people really aren’t going to hell if they aren’t reached by the church, his church model is clearly pointless. P.S. I know that not all Methodists feel this way. But quite a few do. This post is an example of...

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