Book Review – “White Fragility and Getting White People To Talk About Racism“ by Robin DiAngelo

Reviewed by Tim Challies

 

This 2-part review of “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelois well worth the read. In the reviewer’s own words:

I am going to provide a kind of summary of its contents (Pt. 1) and then, in a second article (Pt 2), discuss whether it is a helpful resource for Christians.

The articles follow a particular “story line”.
  • Creation (What Should the World Be Like?)
  • Fall (What Is the World Actually Like?)
  • Redemption (What Actions Can Improve This World?)
  • Restoration (What Future Can We Imagine?)
  • The Bible’s Story & Robin DiAngelo’s Story
1.  White Fragility and Getting White People To Talk About Racism
2.  White Fragility and the Bible’s Big Story

 

NOTE: It looks like there will be a third and final part to  this review. It will be poste to this blog when it is released.

10 Toxic Traditions That Are Killing the Church | Josh Daffern

Although I am not a great fan of Patheos.com, I receive article alerts in my email. This was an interesting article, and with far too many “Read More” click bait style buttons.

Source: 10 Toxic Traditions That Are Killing the Church | Josh Daffern

I’m interested in what other folks think. There are a few comments reflecting various levels of theological prowess, and I did leave a comment.

“I guess it depends on what you mean by ‘tradition’. I would term some on the list as ‘error’ but not necessarily ‘tradition’. Some in the list have merit, come not so much. If you want to know what I think is a ‘tradition’ killing the evangelical church it’s the disappearance of the truly Biblical gospel! I don’t think that was even mentioned. These days people come to Christ for just about anything except for repentance and belief that Christ died for the SINS of his people, NOT poor self-esteem or their best lives now! The death of Christ sits on the back burner as something that was necessary so that sinners can ‘save themselves’ with their free will decisions as the deciding factor.”

Thoughts, anyone?

HOW to Share Christ with Someone

NOTE: What follows has been adapted from several lessons contained in Alistair Begg’s “Crossing the Barriers” series of lessons in personal evangelism.

“Christ is going after His lost sheep, and He wants to use our lips that they may hear His voice today, and our hands that they may feel His touch. He is the soul-winner. People are not won by us for Him. They are won through us by Him. He can win them without us, just as He can speak to them through the Bible quite apart from anything we might say. But He has chosen to work through us and with us.” – –Leith Samuel

In previous CMF Newsletters we ran a 4-part series about “Sharing Christ in a Hostile Culture”

In Part 1, Be Available, we shared real examples of how doors seem to just ‘open up’ for sharing the message of the gospel, and what can happen when there’s a willing and available gospel messenger ‘on location’. In Part 2, Situational Awareness, we compared our ‘Situation’ as believers in Christ – our status, and true citizenship, with our condition (situation) before repenting of sin and believing Christ. In Part 3, Our Duty, Our Great Privilege, Our Highest Calling, the focus was on understanding the nature of the believer’s role in sharing Christ with the world around us. In Part 4, How’s Your Weep? We talked about maintaining a heartfelt burden for the lost souls all around us.

Now that we talked ABOUT sharing Christ, it’s time to tackle HOW. Hopefully this article will be of help to you.

Concerning his followers, Jesus said, “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” Jesus (John 17:15 NIV)

If we to draw a picture of that, it would look like this:

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Following Jesus’ model of Christians ‘In Contact’ with the world, think of your gospel audience in terms of long-term and short-term contacts. Long-term contacts could be family, friends, co-workers, or neighbors. Short-term contacts could be those we meet standing in lines, shopping, travelling, bus stops, waiting rooms – people we might not ever see again.

Before you just jump in the deep end of the pool, remember this:

“We should remind ourselves frequently that effective witnessing begins when we are on our knees, not when we are on our feet.” – Alistair Begg

EXPLODING SOME MYTHS

1. IT TAKES A CERTAIN KIND OF PERSON. You don’t have to be a gifted evangelist or a natural extrovert. Think of Jesus’ first disciples. He chose all sorts of men to train and send to the mission field!

2. YOU NEED TO BE A WALKING BIBLE DICTIONARY. Anyone can share how his/her life has been changed by Christ, but it doesn’t stop with a changed life. The changed life testimony leads naturally to the message that discusses our sinful helpless condition before God and the answer found in repentance and believing in the one God sent.

3. I AM PERSONALLY RESPONSIBLE TO SPEAK TO EVERYONE. That myth leads to guilt and depression. You will feel compelled to speak to everyone you meet/see! We are to be fishermen, not salesmen.

IMPORTANT GUIDELINES

1. BE NATURAL. Don’t change speech patterns, how you talk, tone of voice or terminology. Use ordinary conversation to move to spiritual matters. Jesus merely showed up at the well to ask for a drink of water. NO evangelical jargon. Using Bible words is not synonymous with sharing Bible truths.

2. BE LISTENING. We learn much about the other person just by listening. Their likes, dislikes, interests, etc. Heartfelt listening shows that you care.

3. BE VULNERABLE. We need to get out of our Christian bubbles. Vulnerability creates opportunity with unexpected parties. Jesus was vulnerable. It wasn’t ‘kosher’ to speak with Samaritan women. As Alistair Begg might ask, “When does the salt help the mashed potatoes?”

4. BE BRAVE. “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. “ (2 Tim 1:7)

The toughest of our non-Christian friends are more scared of us than we are of them, thus their ‘toughness’. Don’t worry about where the conversation might go. You can always stop/pause and continue later. It wasn’t ‘kosher’ to speak with Samaritan women.

5. BE IMAGINATIVE. Seize opportunities to share your faith. What’s the common topic of the day? War, sports, stress, etc. Don’t use the same lead-in every time. Walk on common ground.

6. BE DIRECT. As the Spirit leads, get to the gospel, but you don’t need to use a specific ‘method’. Let the conversation tell you the best method.

FUNDAMENTAL TRUTHS

No matter what method you use for sharing the message of the gospel, address these three truths, in the order given here.

1. THE HUMAN CONDITION

Things are messed up. Why? Ask questions. What’s in the newspaper? Magazines? Look at the music, dysfunctional families. Why do you think that is? Talk about it.

2. THE BIBLE’S DIAGNOSIS

Suggest that the Bible has a diagnosis. The heart of the problem is the human heart, which needs to change. Have a Bible and open it. Share favorite passages of scripture that speak of the condition of the fallen hearts of all men. You might use Romans 1:18 about God’s wrath, or Romans 3:23 and the fact that ALL have sinned and fallen short pf God’s standard of perfection. And sin brings consequences (Rom 6:23) – ‘The wages of sin is death. You might need to go back to Genesis and the sin of Adam. Just talk about it from the Bible and let God convict.

3. GOD’S REMEDY

Share that Christ died for OUR sins. It was prophesied in the OT and fulfilled in the NT (Isaiah 53:6, Matthew 1:21, John 3:16). Just keep sharing what the Bible simply says.

4. PERSONAL RESPONSE

The truths of the gospel message having already been discussed, it’s time to talk about the need for a personal response. Introduce, without directly asking for a response, the necessary steps.

1) Admit you are a helpless sinner. There are differences in degree of sin, but not the fact of sin. ALL have sinned enough to be condemned and lost.

2) Believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross to be the savior we have admitted we need. 1 Pet 3:18 – Christ died once for all.

3) Receive, by faith, (full confidence) the forgiveness of sin and cleansing from sin.

At this point 3 further questions may prove very beneficial in bringing clarity.

1. HAVE YOU PERSONALLY TRUSTED JESUS CHRIST OR ARE YOU STILL ON THE WAY?

Defines Christian as one who has personally received Jesus Christ and provides opportunity for Yes/No/Still on the way

2. HOW FAR ALONG THE WAY ARE YOU?

Critical point. Satan gets busy. This is where very personal/conditional topics might come into play. If the answer is ‘I want to home and think about it’, remember this might be the only time, hand them something like a tract, possibly. Be sensitive to ‘indicators’.

3. WOULD YOU LIKE TO BECOME A REAL CHRISTIAN AND BE SURE OF IT?

If the answer is yes, go back to the need for personal response.

ADD counting the cost of becoming a Christian. This is where the rubber meets the road. If they are not ready for a ‘revolution’, they are not ready to respond genuinely to the offer of salvation.

If they are ready, lead them to the Cross.

“Dear Lord Jesus, I admit I am a helpless sinner before you, I’ve tried many times and failed. I believe the bible is true in saying Jesus is the savior, I accept the cost, please forgive ME.”

“Blind” Minds?

2 Corinthians 4:4

“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor 4:4, ESV)

In a previous post here at The Battle Cry, The Apostle Paul, a Veiled Gospel, and Blind Minds we talked about three things Paul addressed in his second letter to the church at Corinth, a predominately Gentile church. In this post we’ll revisit one of those topics – the “blind minds” of unbelievers.

Our referenced passage speaks specifically of the minds of unbelievers being blind and unable to see and understand the light of the gospel. While I was working on the previous blog, I couldn’t help but wonder if the mental blindness of unbelievers extended beyond seeing the light of the gospel into other areas. Just how much of an impact does “the god of this world”, Satan, have on the mental capabilities (or lack thereof) of fallen man?

With those questions buzzing around in my head, and in light of all the craziness going on these days (political and COVID related), I decided to consult some good Bible commentaries. Of the commentaries I read, Albert Barnes seemed to address the issue in the most comprehensive manner. Here is his commentary on 2 Cor 4:4, speaking of the work of the “god of this world”, Satan:

(The god of this world) Hath blinded the minds of them which believe not – Of all who discern no beauty in the gospel, and who reject it. It is implied here:

1.  That the minds of unbelievers are blinded; that they perceive no beauty in the gospel. This is often affirmed of those who reject the gospel, and who live in sin; see the 2Co 2:13 note; Mat 23:16-17, Mat 23:26 notes; Luk 4:18 note; Joh 9:39; Joh 12:40 notes; Rom 11:7 note. The sense is, that they did not see the spiritual beauty and glory of the plan of redemption. They act in reference to that as they would in reference to this world, if a bandage were over their eyes, and they saw not the light of the sun, the beauty of the landscape, the path in which they should go, or the countenance of a friend. All is dark, and obscure, and destitute of beauty to them, however much beauty may be seen in all these objects by others.

2.  That this is done by the agency of Satan; and that his dominion is secured by keeping the world in darkness. The affirmation is direct and positive, that it is by his agency that it is done. Some of the “modes” in which it is done are the following:

a.  By a direct influence on the minds of people. I do not know why it is absurd to suppose that one intellect may, in some way unknown to us, have access to another, and have power to influence it; nor can it be proved that Satan may not have power to pervert the understanding; to derange its powers; to distract its attention; and to give in view of the mind a wholly delusive relative importance to objects. In the time of the Saviour it cannot be doubted that in the numerous cases of demoniacal possessions, Satan directly affected the minds of people; nor is there any reason to think that he has ceased to delude and destroy them.

b.  By the false philosophy which has prevailed – a large part of which seems to have been contrived as if on purpose to deceive the world, and destroy the peace and happiness of people.

c.  By the systems of superstition and idolatry. All these seem to be under the control of one Master Mind. They are so well conceived and adapted to prostrate the moral powers; to fetter the intellect; to pervert the will; to make people debased, sunken, polluted, and degraded; and they so uniformly accomplish this effect, that they have all the marks of being under the control of one mighty Mind, and of having been devised to accomplish His purposes over people.

d.  By producing in the minds of people a wholly disproportionate view of the value of objects. “A very small object held before the eye will shut out the light of the sun.” A piece of money of the smallest value laid on the eye will make everything appear dark, and prevent all the glory of mid-day from reaching the seat of vision. And so it is with the things of this world. They are placed directly before us, and are placed directly between us and the glory of the gospel. And the trifles of wealth and of fashion; the objects of pleasure and ambition, are made to assume an importance in view of the mind which wholly excludes the glory of the gospel, and shuts out all the realities of the eternal world. And he does it:

e.  By the blinding influence of passion and vice. Before a vicious mind all is dark and obscure. There is no beauty in truth, in chastity, or honesty, or in the fear and love of God. Vice always renders the mind blind. and the heart hard, and shrouds everything in the moral world in midnight. And in order to blind the minds of people to the glory of the gospel, Satan has only to place splendid schemes of speculation before people; to tempt them to climb the steeps of ambition; to entice them to scenes of gaiety; to secure the erection of theaters, and gambling houses, and houses of infamy and pollution; to fill the cities and towns of a land with taverns and dram-shops; and to give opportunity everywhere for the full play and unrestrained indulgence of passion; and the glory of the gospel will be as effectually unseen as the glory of the sun is in the darkest night.

___________

Albert Barnes (1798-1870) was an American theologian, born at Rome, New York, on December 1, 1798. He graduated from Hamilton College, Clinton, New York, in 1820, and from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1823. Barnes was ordained as a Presbyterian minister by the presbytery of Elizabethtown, New Jersey, in 1825, and was the pastor successively of the Presbyterian Church in Morristown, New Jersey (1825-1830), and of the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia (1830-1867).

Some who read this might agree with Albert Barnes, some might not.  And although our passage does state ratherly clearly that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers”, i know of at least one reader of this little blog that will probably breathe his last breath claiming that Jews have blind minds, but Gentiles do not. He has reminded me of his opinion several times through the last few years.

The Apostle Paul, a Veiled Gospel, and Blind Minds

2 Corinthians 4:1-6

The Light of the Gospel

“Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart  But we have renounced disgraceful ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. . And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor 4:1-4, ESV)

Paul’s letters to the church at Corinth were meant to deal with specific issues facing the young church. His first letter dealt with destructive divisions in the church, along with issues of immorality and carnality in the church. His second letter dealt, at least in part with having to answer the criticisms of false teachers who openly opposed him. In the short passage above Paul speaks of three things, his ministry, the gospel he preached being veiled (hidden) from some hearers, and ‘blind’ minds incapable of understanding the gospel.

We will briefly discuss each of these, in the order presented, with an eye to their application to personal evangelism.

The Apostle Paul

“But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” (2 Cor 4:2)

In this verse Paul renounces of disgraceful underhanded ways, asserts his refusal to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word in presenting the gospel, and reaffirms his intent to merely speak the plain truth of the gospel. Paul’s message to this church, as well as to the others he planted was simple – “Christ and him crucified” for the sins of men. (1 Cor 2:1-4) No slick marketing campaigns, house to house surveys, or twisting of scripture in order to please itching ears.

A Veiled Gospel

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.” (2 Cor 4:3)

Here Paul, at his hypothetical best, tells us that if the message of the gospel is “veiled”, or hidden from anyone it would be those are who are “perishing” in their sin, Jesus referred to these unbelievers as “condemned already”. (John 3:18). Nowhere does Paul ever tell us not to preach the gospel, but he does tell us that the gospel we preach very likely won’t be understood by some of our listeners. Talk about a tough job! There’s an answer to that problem, and we’ll get to it.

Blind Minds

“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Cor 4:4)

Here Paul tells us exactly WHY unbelievers cannot understand the gospel message. Their minds have been completely blinded to the spiritual truths underlying the message! Not only that, we are told that the one who has blinded the minds of unbelievers is “the god of this world”, or Satan himself! In John 12:31, he is called “the prince of this world.” In Ephesians 2:2, he is called “the prince of the power of the air.” And in Ephesians 6:12, the same bad influence is referred to under the names of “principalities, and powers,” “the rulers of the darkness of this world,” and “spiritual wickedness in high places.”

So what?

How should that impact personal evangelism?

1. Stick to the message – stay on point. And the whole point of the gospel message is that Christ died for the sins of men. Don’t sugar coat it. The gospel is a bad news/good news story. Present the problem (sin) followed by the solution (Jesus Christ).

2. Realize that there are those from whom the good news is veiled, or completely hidden. They cannot even understand it (1 Corinthians 2:14). Trust God to open hearts to hear it, understand it, and receive it.

3. Recognize that it is Satan who has blinded the minds of everyone who has yet to believe in Christ. We would probably equate having a ‘blind mind’ with a complete inability to process information. By all means use kind and persuasive speech as you share an ‘offensive’ truth, but let God open cold and spiritually dead hearts to hear and be saved.

Good Friday – The Rest of the Story

Today Christians remember the day that their Savior died on a cross at Mount Calvary, finishing the work that He was sent here to accomplish – to die for and save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). Three days later, Christ rose from the dead, leaving an empty tomb, displaying the power and glory of God, both in Christ’s resurrection and foreshadowing the raising of spiritually dead sinners to new life in Christ.

Just a few comments – food for thought about what it all means:

John 3:16 – 19

16“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”

Let’s break that down, beginning with the most memorized passage in all of the New Testament.

16“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

This verse tells us that those who believe in The Son will have eternal life. What are we to believe about the Son? In Mark 1:15 Jesus told his listeners to “..repent and believe the gospel.” The Apostle Paul defines the gospel quite clearly in 1 Corinthians15:1-4:

1“Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures

17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

The Son’s first coming into this world was to save sinners who repent and believe the gospel. His second coming will be as the righteous judge of the whole world. (Matthew 24:30; Revelation 19)

18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

This verse tells us that those who have repented of their sin and believed the gospel are not now condemned, nor will they be condemned at the judgment. It also tells us that those who have not repented of their sins and believed in the Son stand condemned already, even as they live and breathe.

19And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”

This verse tells us WHY so many have not repented of their sin and believed in the Son. They love the darkness in which they live, in which we all once lived. They love the darkness BECAUSE their deeds are evil. Would it be a stretch to say that they LOVE their sin, or would it be a strikingly logical conclusion?

The really BIG question is, “Have you repented of your sin and believed the gospel?” Are you safe in the arms of Christ, or do you stand ‘condemned already’ before a just and holy God?

Those are questions between you and God. Do not take them lightly. Don’t answer me, answer Him.

Sharing Christ in a Hostile Culture, Pt 3– Our Duty, Our Great Privilege, and Our Highest Calling

In Part 1 of this series of articles, Be Available, we shared real examples of how doors seem to just ‘open up’ for sharing the message of the gospel, and what can happen when there’s a willing and available gospel messenger ‘on location’.

In Part 2, Situational Awareness, we compared our ‘Situation’ as believers in Christ – our status, and true citizenship, with our condition (situation) before repenting of sin and believing Christ.

This article focuses on understanding the nature of the believer’s role in sharing Christ with the world around us. Bear in mind that God, being GOD, is able to save lost sinners in any way He chooses to do so, with, or without our involvement. At the same time, it’s important to remember that God has not only provided for the salvation of His people (through Christ); he has chosen the means by which he saves lost sinners. – the preaching of the gospel (sharing Christ). This means that fur you and me (and all believers) sharing Christ with a lost world is at least three things; Our Duty, Our Great Privilege, and Our Highest Calling!

Our Duty

18And Jesus came and said to them (the disciples), “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mathew 28:18-20)

You might be thinking that there is no command for personal evangelism in the above passage of scripture, I beg to differ. Jesus’ command, to ‘make disciples’, by its very nature requires sharing the message of the gospel. Disciples are only produced from saved; blood bought sinners. Jesus disciples (followers) were commanded to make disciples of those were already believers and preach the message of the gospel to those still lost so that they could then be made into disciples.

Our Great Privilege

God not only provided the way of salvation of His people in the death and resurrection of His Son, He also decreed the means whereby men are saved.

13“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ 14How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:13-15)

The above passage is crystal clear. Those who call on the Lord will be saved. Calling on the Lord means believing in Him. To believe they must first hear the good news (evangel). For them to hear, someone must preach Christ to them. Those who share the good news are ‘sent’ by God to do so.

Dear friends, WE ae among those who are sent to share the good news! The Great Commission was given specifically to Jesus’ immediate disciple, but it was meant for all believers for all time.

God has chosen to use flawed you and me to share His perfect message of salvation! How is that NOT the greatest privilege bestowed on God’s children?

Our Highest Calling

I recently read an article in a local newspaper about an F/A-18 Super Hornet weapons system officer who was actually the first female pilot to bomb ISIS from an F/A 18. Here is how she described ISIS and her role in the bombing:

“They are a horrible crop of humans, with an utter disregard for human life,” she said. “To witness that, day in and out, to witness mass murder, you have such an understanding. I’d trained for so long to protect innocent people on the ground, and when I saw that violated, and to finally use my skills to do that and use weapons, there is no higher calling.” (Emphasis mine)

With no disrespect to either a fine Naval officer or anyone who fights global terrorism, I have to confess that the immediate reaction of this old soldier was “But there IS a higher calling!” – to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the world around us, and often hostile culture in which we live.

In many churches these days much is made of living our best lives now, discovering our special purpose for our time on planet Earth, and even achieving our ‘dream destinies’. Friends, I suggest to you that all of those things are merely temporary at best. I also suggest to you that our duty and great privilege to share the good news of Jesus Christ with a lost world, and the eternal consequences at stake (heaven and hell), define the great commission as the highest calling a blood bought child of God has received from heaven!

Be blessed!

The Holy Spirit in Evangelism and the Salvation of Sinners

Evangelism

In the above quotation from J.I. Packer’s book,Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. we can see the work of the Holy Spirit in at least there ways.

1.  The Holy Spirit Empowers the evangelist.  While it is true that the message of the Gospel can be presented as if it’s a matter of mere facts, or an intellectual exercise, the sharing of the Gospel message In the power of the Holy Spirit carries with it  certain Divine authority that is not lost on the hearer.

2.  The Holy Spirit opens the heart of the hearer to receive the Gospel message. While it is also true that the Gospel message can be heard by anyone at all, a God-opened heart guarantees that it will be taken to heart, received with gladness, and a lost soul saved for eternity. No better example can be found than the woman Lydia in the 16th Chapter of the book of Acts.

3.  The Holy Spirit no only empowers the evangelist and opens the heart of the sinner, He also empowers the new born believer to live for God and serve Him from that day forward.. It is the Holy Spirit that works in the Christian both to desire and to do what is pleasing to his Lord. (Phil 2:13).

Food for thought………….

Who are Christians?

I had an invite to church this morning, thanks to a Facebook post from a contemporary megachurch with several large campuses. As is my custom, I went in search of their “About” link to find out their doctrinal statement. I finally found it, after I scrolled down the home page and finally reached the bottom of the page, where a lot of “What We Believe” statements are found these days. This particular church had a lot of good statements, as do a lot of churches. They all talk a good game. One particular statement caught my attention:

JESUS CHRIST DWELLS IN ALL BELIEVERS
Christians are people who have invited the Lord Jesus Christ to come and live inside of them by His Holy Spirit. They relinquish the authority of their lives over to Him thus making Jesus the Lord of their lives accomplished for them when He died, was buried, and rose again from the dead.

(John 1:12, 14:17, 15:4; Romans 8:11; Revelation 3:20)

We are provided the definition of a Christian: “Christians are people who have invited the Lord Jesus Christ to come and live inside of them..”

The scripture passages cited to support that definition are:

“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,” John 1:12

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

Neither of the above passages supports becoming a Christian by inviting Jesus to live inside you. John 1:12 clearly says that a Christian is one who “receives Christ and believes in His name.” I’ll admit that anyone who invites Jesus onto their hear receives Christ (for something) and believes in Him (for something), but WHAT? There are a lot of contemporary churches these days that offer Jesus Christ for a LOT of things, but not the perfect sacrifice for our sins. One of the largest of those churches is Lakewood Church in Houston. I’ll leave that right there.

Revelation 3:20 comes a bit closer to supporting the notion that ‘inviting Jesus into your heart’ makes you a Christian, but no matter how popular it is, it also fails. You see, Jesus not speaking to individual lost sinners, he is speaking to His own church, asking to come back in! Don’t take my word for it, read it for yourself.

So, who IS a Christian? Let’s let Jesus answer that question:

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:15

Simply put, a Christian is someone who has repented of their sin and believed the gospel (Jesus died for our sins).

Much more can be said, but nothing more needs to be said.

Be blessed!

“De Oppresso Liber”

clip_image002 “De oppresso liber”, commonly translated “to liberate the oppressed” is the motto of U.S. Army Special Forces. The phrase stems from the exploits of World War II Office of Strategic Services Jedburgh/Sussex Teams operating behind the lines in France. Colonel Aaron Bank, father of United States Army Special Forces, and his teams enabled the French Resistance to grow and oppose the occupying German Army.

Although the phrase “to liberate the oppressed” might not be an exact grammatical and literal translation, the point is well made. Liberating oppressed peoples has always been a primary goal of U.S. Special Forces.

Perhaps one of the greatest symbols of oppression in the history of mankind was the Berlin Wall. We were stationed in Berlin between 1984 and 1987. When we were stationed in Berlin in the late 80’s, we were able to capture a picture of a small part of the Wall that depicted the goal of German people living on both sides:

clip_image004

The need to liberate oppressed peoples is nothing new, nor is it a goal or mission reserved for the temporal realm.

God raised up the Prophet Isaiah to accuse the leaders of a rebellious nation of not caring for the oppressed and remind them of their obligations as rulers:

“Learn to do well:
seek judgment,
relieve the oppressed
judge for the fatherless,
defend the widow.” (Isaiah 1:17)

Perhaps the most significant of the church fathers, Augustine of Hippo recognized that liberating those who are oppressed was one of the solemn responsibilities of pastoral ministry. In a sermon celebrating the anniversary of his ordination as a Bishop he eloquently described how he saw his duties:

“The turbulent have to be corrected,
The faint-hearted cheered up,
The weak supported;
The Gospel’s opponents need to be refuted,

Its insidious enemies guarded against;
The unlearned need to be taught,
The indolent stirred up,
The argumentative checked;

The proud must be put in their place,
The desperate set on their feet,
Those engaged in quarrels reconciled;
The needy have to be helped,

The oppressed to be liberated,
The good to be encouraged,

The bad to be tolerated;
All must be loved.”

(St. Augustine, Sermon 340,3: CChr.SL 194, 920.)

Oppression has many faces and affects all levels of society. The list of oppressors and oppressed people groups is too long to try and list here. At the same time, alleviating varying types of oppression (or perceived oppression), both from America’s past and existing today, has become a priority and matter of debate in secular society as well as the church. ‘Social justice’ issues have been declared by some to be integral to the message of the gospel itself instead of an outcome of having embraced the gospel that Christ died for our sins.

All of the above aside for a moment, I would like to ask you a question, and here it is:

“What is the single most dangerous and cruel form of oppression that has existed throughout the history of mankind and still exists today?”

I’ll give you a hint or two.

  • It exists in every country/nation on Earth and has affected every person that has ever been born since the fall of Adam.
  • It’s not oppression between people or groups of people,
  • It has eternal consequences.

(Insert 30 seconds of quiz show music……….)

And the answer is……………SIN.

The greatest oppression that has ever existed in the history of humanity is sin’s oppression of every single person born after the sin of Adam in the Garden of Eden.

Adam and Eve were created with a desire to please God, but also with the ability to disobey. Disobey they did, with disastrous results to follow and affect everyone ever born thereafter.

The Bible tells us about those who are lost to God and separated from Christ by sin:

The lost are slaves to sin.

“Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness.” (Rom 6:16)

The lost are also spiritually dead.

The Apostle Paul told the believers in Ephesus that

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—” (Eph 2:1-2)

The lost are condemned already.

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” (John 3:18)

That’s a really short list of passages that speak of the oppressed condition of all those separated from God and apart from Christ by sin. Perhaps the harshest description of the lost in the entire Bible is something else Paul told believers in Ephesus:

The lost are the “children of wrath”.

“…we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.” (Eph 2:3)

No earthly oppression can ever compare to the oppression caused by the sin that is in the world that resulted from the disobedience of the first Adam. And there are many who live their happy and content lives oblivious of their condition in abject slavery to that sin.

But there is GOOD news! We don’t have to despair!

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

This is the very reason Christ came to Earth so long ago – “to seek and save that which was lost”. That was His mission on earth – the mission that was announced to His earthly father Joseph:

“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matt 1:21)

“De Opresso Liber”