Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Christian Malpractice

Re-Posted from "Meditations of a Charismatic Calvinist Who Does Not Speak in Tongues".

There are many people in the world who are victims of Christian theological malpractice. This consists in telling people that if they come to Christ they will have no real problems and will be happy all the time.  I am not simply talking here of the health and wealth gospel, though they are the worst offenders.  There are multitudes of other approaches which, though they do not go as far, nonetheless teach that Jesus is some kind of happiness pill which, if you take, you will not feel pain anymore. And when people find out this does not really work, they write off Christianity as a piece of false advertising.  (Many times such people have never really been saved because they have never really dealt with the basic issues of sin and forgiveness.  But even if they are saved, they can end up struggling in their walk with God.) We set them up for a fall. Is this really what the Scripture teaches?

The Bible says we should expect trouble (John 16:33; Acts 14:22; 2 Corinthians 1:4-7) and opposition (2 Timothy 3:12; John 15:18-21; 16:1-4).  The Christian life is pictured as a battle (Ephesians 6:10-13; 2 Timothy 2:3.4; 1 Timothy 6:12) and an athletic contest (Hebrews 12:1-3; 1 Corinthians  9:24-27; 2 Timothy 2:5).  Now we are able to put these things in perspective because we know what our ultimate goal will be (2 Corinthians 4:17,18; Romans 8:18; Revelation 21:4) and know God is using the trials we go through to make us into the people that God wants us to be (James 1:2-4; Romans 5:3-5; 8:28,29).  As Christians, we have reason to rejoice (John 15:11) in who God is (Philippians 4:4), in our hope of salvation (Romans 5:2; 12:12; Philippians 3:3), in the fact God hears our prayers (John 16:24), and even in our suffering for Christ's sake (Matthew 5:12; Acts 5:41).  But all this, as I said, is a matter of perspective.  To sell Jesus by the Madison Avenue method is to set both you and your converts up for failure.  You may show superficial success, but you will not be doing what God has genuinely called you to do. And you will be in danger of producing disciples like the seed that falls on rocky soil and sprouts up quickly but withers at the first sign of trouble (Mark 4:16,17).

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