I recently came across a blog post:
my initial response is:
Interesting article. There certainly could be and probably are those that are into some type of pop culture Christianity, but I think that Christianity is not at all popular anymore. He shares true Scriptures about giving it all to Jesus, but I think he is questioning motivations. It is really hard to know motivations, I always pray mine are pure, but God only knows. I believe that Francis Chan, David Platt, Kyle Idleman and others have pure motivations, but there have to be people who agree with them but have the wrong motivations. No one can question the Scriptures Idleman uses such as Luke 9:23. With respect to motivations in Philippians 1 Paul talked about those that preach Christ selfishly and he said that at least Christ is preached. (Philippians 1:15-18)
Looking into this blog and who he is, it appears he leads a missions organization. I think he is right to be frustrated with the pop culture 1 week mission trips. I have read articles about how much harm those trips can actually do. Mission trips should never be a popular thing to do. A way to weed those out is to have steep requirements to serve on a youth mission team. When I was in youth group we were required 18 weeks of discipleship, to take sermon notes, to do service projects and read some books about missionaries. I have, unfortunately known other youth groups that take over 100 students over seas for what they call a mission trip. But it becomes a fad. These same groups have had students smoking pot on the mission trips.
I think time will tell about the radical Christianity, but for the most part it really isn’t radical, it is really going back to the Bible.
Rev. Dr. Jeff Johnson said it well: “We have many believers but not many disciples.” By the way, I have tons of respect for Billy Graham, but with all those who supposedly gave their lives to Jesus at his crusades, why within a generation has America lost its Christian base? I think a lack of discipleship and a lack of clear teaching of what it means to be a Christian. Jesus actually turned people away from following Him. (see Luke 14:26; 21:17; Matthew 19:16-26) In John 6 Jesus lost about 5000 people from following Him. (John 6:60-66)
So, following Jesus is not the easy way. Jesus called His way the narrow road (Matthew 7:13-14), but following Jesus is the eternal way.
Below are some of my notes from a 9 Marks conference I attended. They are long but I think very valuable. These come from Greg Gilbert:
Six temptations for this generation:
It is not good enough as a leader to start out well. We have to finish well too.
1) We are tempted to think we can proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ without words.
- “Preach the Gospel always and if necessary use words.” (St. Francis of Assisi) Our churches like this quote. We can be cool and hip, but we lose that when we start using words talking about a crucified Man who rose from the dead. You cannot do that while being hip.
- The English word Gospel means “good word.” We get our English word spelling from that.
- The main point of a message is that it has to be spoken. It has to be communicated. There has to be words.
- There are a lot of people in the world who do a lot of good, kind, nice things.
- The people in our pews are likely tempted to think that they can get away with just doing good things.
- If they love their co-workers they cannot stop short.
- We must not let them think that they can share the Gospel without words.
2) We are tempted to soften Divine wrath. The Bible talks about God’s wrath as terrifying. Unquenchable fire. If the Bible uses phrase after phrase to talk about hell as so horrible. Why do some evangelicals go out of their way to say that hell won’t really be that bad?
3) We are tempted redefine sin.
- We want to believe that we are mostly good.
- The idea that we are hopeless, helpless sinners is hard to think about.
- Sometimes we just redefine sin as being a simple brokenness relationship between us and God.
- We define sin as a lover’s quarrel.
- The Bible defines sin as a broken relationship, but of a certain type.
- The relationship that has been broken is not between two peers.
- The relationship that has been broken is between King and Subject, between creator and subject.
- Some try to redefine sin, not as rebellion against God, but the effects of sin.
- But the issue is that we are rebels. We have rebelled against God. We have rebelled against the King.
- Sins are the little things that we do. Sin is the heart rebellion against God. We don’t know what to do with these deep running heart issues of sin.
- Our sin nature means that we are cracked all the way down the middle. We cannot be simply cleaned up. We would need a whole new being. Jesus does that in the Gospel.
- Image of a sphere at the Smithsonian with grease, etc all over it. We think we can just clean that up and we could clean ourselves up. But we cannot. We would need a new sphere. If we were the sphere, we are cracked all the way down the middle.
4) We are tempted to de-center the cross.
- The cross in the Roman world was loathed.
- Yet the cross was centralized in the New Testament.
- Going into a city in the Roman empire we would see crosses lining the roads with crucified bodies on them.
- Romans wanted to send an image, don’t mess with the Romans. They would even time their crucifixions so that people would be terrified into submission to the Roman empire.
- Ancient writers when they mention the crucifixion would not tell us much about it. They would not give much detail. They would basically be saying, “You just wouldn’t want to know.” It was so loathsome. The most information we get about the cross comes from the New Testament.
- People would put their cloaks over their children’s eyes so they don’t need to see that. You hanging on a cross are a loathsome thing, hanging on a loathsome thing.
- That is what Paul meant when he said that the cross was an offense.
- The Romans even drew cartoons and ridiculed the Christians after Jesus was crucified.
- There was this ridicule of the cross, yet Paul dealt with that all the time in the New Testament.
- We must proclaim the cross. The cross is what makes the good news good in the first place.
5) We are tempted to redefine the cross.
- We make it about something other than Jesus absorbing the wrath of the Father in our place, in our sin
- In His love He covenants with His Son to save us.
- This is revolting to the world.
- This is anathema to the world around us.
- Jesus understood His own death this way. The apostles knew that. Jesus talked about His blood of the covenant. The apostles talked about the covenant.
- Page after page of the O.T. is pointing forward about the penal substitution of the cross. Exodus 17:1ff; In 1 Corinthians 10:1ff Paul writes about this story and connects it with the New Testament. Paul says that the rock was Christ. Some may think Paul was just primitive. That would be a bad excuse. The nation of Israel had come to another place and they decide that they are going to put God on trial. It may look like Moses was on trial. But in reality, Moses says, “Why do you test the Lord.” There are markers that any Israelite would have known were them putting God on trial. Moses stood for God and they were going to stone Moses, which means they were going to stone God. God says, “Bring it one.” Starting in verse Exodus 17:5: God tells Moses to take the staff and go before the elders of Israel. The staff is a staff of judgment. The Nile, the curses on Egypt, etc. This is ominous on many accounts as the staff is judgment on the nation of Israel. Exodus 17 Verse 5ff: the staff of judgment falls on a rock and water will come out of it and the people will drink. God is taking the punishment for His people’s sin. The judgment that the people deserve is falling on Him. Life comes out of the rock, water, and the people are saved. This is amazing. That is how Christ was the rock. The staff of judgment strikes the rock. Interesting that God tells Moses that He will stand before them on the Rock. It is not right for us to pick and choose what parts of penal substitution to preach about. Substitution: reconciliation between me and God is only made effective through the wrath of God being poured out on someone else, other than me. Someone has to die in my place. God is mad at me in His wrath.
6) We are tempted to think that the main thing the Gospel calls to do is to make our neighborhood and our cities and our world better places to love.
- Greg wrote a book alongside someone else titled: “What Is the Mission of the Church,” and they get into this a lot.
- Good deeds are good and are commanded.
- The Bible presents the main purpose, or aim, or goal of the good works to affirm and confirm and adorn the Gospel of Jesus Christ whom we preach. Sometimes the world becomes a better place. The Lord is gracious and He allows that to happen.
- Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father who is Heaven. (Matthew)
- You will not find a promise in Scripture that our good works will make the world around us a better place. You can work for that and pray for that.
- If you preach that God has promised that we can live good lives and our neighborhood will change and in 15-20 years sex trafficking is still there, there is still corruption in the government, etc. They will blame God.
- The tenor of the New Testament is that the church will be preaching the Gospel, etc. and this will give us the staying power that we can do this for 80- years of my life. This because I know that Jesus never promised that the world will get better.
- Acts 1:8 the marching orders to the apostles (every Gospel and then in Acts 1:8).
- Acts 1:8 is an expanding set of concentric circles. The book of Acts is structured, its’ skeleton is of breaking through from that verse.
- The New Testament is not structured around teaching sustainable agricultural practices to the Galatians. They may have done that, but the New Testament is structured around the cross, around the saving message of Jesus Christ.
- Why is the cross the shorthand for the church? Why not a tomb that is opened?
- Why is Paul’s message in 1 Corinthians called the Word of the Cross?
- Even death is not our greatest problem. The cross deals with that problem once and for all. We must preach the cross.