Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Heart of the Message

What is the message we proclaim? Is it a message about being a good, moral person? About how to improve society? About how to be happier and more well-adjusted? About how to reach your full potential? The Christian message is something much more radical. It is the message of how God came down from heaven and became a human being (John 1:1-18; Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 2:9-18). That He paid the price we deserved to pay for all our wrong doing and rebellion against Him (1 Peter 2:24,25; Colossians 2:13,14; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Then He validated all His claims by rising from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-20; Romans 4:24,25; 1:4). He therefore offers forgiveness of sins to all who put their faith in Him (Ephesians 2:8,9; Romans 4:4,5; Philippians 3:9). Now the result of accepting this forgiveness is that God becomes involved in our lives to transform us (2 Corinthians 3:18; Titus 2:11-14; Ephesians 2:10. And one of the results of this is the desire to help those around us who are in need (Galatians 6:10; Luke 10:25-37; James 2:14-17). But these are merely the responses to what God has done in our lives (1 John 4:19; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Romans 12:1,2).

The problem is, people will tend to misunderstand us unless we are clear on this. Instead of seeing the point as being that God has invaded history to destroy sin and death, they will see the issue as being something they must do. They will interpret this requirement as either doing something to turn over a new leaf and change their lives. Or they will see it as some sort of mystical experience. They will see the crux of the matter as what they do or they feel, rather than what God has done to reconcile us to Himself. But there are many moral standards and mystical experiences in the world, and these can do nothing against our deep inner sinfulness (Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 64:6). What we need is not a new moral code, a new program for self improvement, or a new religious feeling. What we need is forgiveness and eternal life, and that is only found in Jesus Christ  (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5). But if there is any way for people to distort or misunderstand this offer, they will. Therefore, we need to be clear about what it is we proclaim. So that we may give the world what it needs to know, not what it wants to hear.

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