Friday, July 30, 2010

Neglecting Such a Great Salvation

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?
(Hebrews 2:1-3a)

This passage in the book of Hebrews was written to the church to serve as a great warning in regards to the new covenant. In knowing the just retribution that came with neglecting the Mosaic law which was given by angels (see Leviticus 26:14-39; Numbers 15:30-31), the writer makes a lesser-to-greater argument by emphasizing the greater judgment that came with neglecting the salvation through Jesus Christ that was proclaimed by God Himself. The overarching principle is that the gospel that God has proclaimed through Christ is so important, that God will judge all men who neglect it.

While it is a great tragedy when a person who is lost in their sins hears the gospel message only to neglect it and walk away indifferent, what is even a greater shame is when the church neglects this gospel message that has been entrusted to us by God. Instead, we turn to shameful and irreverent schemes that have nothing to do with the Christ. Whether it is during a Sunday morning worship service or at a youth conference, the church has perverted the gospel to appeal to carnal men. We claim to care about the souls of men but in reality our methods show that we only care about numbers and getting "decisions" for Christ. If we truly were concerned for the salvation of men, then we would be faithful to preach the God's word, which is the only medium that is sufficient to bring lost sinners to the knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 3:15) and thus bring them to repentance and faith in Christ (2 Kings 22:11; Romans 10:17; 1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18) and guide them into all things that pertain to life and godliness (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:3).

I've seen this at it's worst this week in Houston, TX. A conference that prides itself on being "the most anticipated inner city multi church student conference in Houston, Texas" is busy spreading its Christless and worldly Christianity to 1,000+ youth. As you walk through the website and watch some of the highlights, you will see that the preacher has been replaced by the comedian and the storyteller and the message has been replaced with silly illustrations and bad jokes. Even worse, rather than proclaiming the gospel and God's word, the "pastors" and "speakers" feel it necessary to hold sessions on how teens can be prepared for their "first time". And this is all done in the name of "love".

This is where parents and churches are sending their youth, and sadly, churches across the evangelical landscape have used these antics to replace the message that Paul said was "of most importance" ( 1 Corinthians 15:3). The only message that is the power of God to save, sanctify and glorify the sinner (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2).  So rather than proclaiming this gospel message, the church turns to man-centered and man-made strategies that may produce results that look good on paper but in God's scheme of things, do nothing to profit the souls of men.

It's a sobering thing when we see those lost and dead in their trespasses and sins turn away from the only way to find reconciliation to a holy and righteous God but what's just as frightening (if not even more) is when pastors and teachers, those very men that are called to preach this message of reconciliation to the lost, ignore God's message and method and replace it with their own. I pray that God would awaken our hearts and unplug our ears to pay careful attention to this great salvation so that we use God's means to preach God's message for God's glory.