Moment in the Word
Thu, 01/19/2023 - 9:41am admin
Matthew 3:7-8 - But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. "You brood of snakes!" he exclaimed. "Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God."
Recently, I read two articles entitled, "A Mass Exodus from Christianity Is Underway in America" and "Is Neo-Paganism America's New National Religion?"
Undeniably, the Church is in a deep crisis, but why?
Part of the problem is illustrated by a preacher's comment that I heard this morning when a young man asked if he needed to abandon his current lifestyle in order to follow Christ.
The minister answered, "No!"
The Bible clearly refers to the Holy Spirit's purpose, "When he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God's righteousness, and of the coming judgment."
Responding to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, people automatically seek God because they innately know they are not living right, "A man came up to Jesus and inquired, 'Teacher, what good thing must I do to obtain eternal life ...' And a ruler questioned Him, saying, 'Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life...' The people asked Jesus, 'What does God want us to do ...' The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, 'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'" (Matthew 19:16, Luke 18:18, John 6:28, Acts 16:29-30)
Today, the secular church answers, "You don't need to do anything because Jesus has already done everything for you!"
But this is simply NOT true!
From the very beginning we have the example of John the Baptist's ministry, "But when he (John) saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. 'You brood of snakes!' he exclaimed. 'Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God.'" (Matthew 3:7-8)
Echoing the Baptist's command for repentance, St. Peter also said, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." (Acts 2:38)
Years ago, every Church in America had "mourners' benches" for individuals who came before God to make penance for sin. Gradually, to be more sensitive to people's delicate feelings, the name of these crude prayer benches was changed to "altars." Sadly, today, most churches have discarded their altars ... along with the ancient doctrine of repentance to be forgiven for sin, expecting instead for God to accept them exactly as they are and not interfere with their sin-laden lives.
According to the article I mentioned earlier, the unrepentant people abandoning lifeless religion are still "dead in trespasses of sin" (Colossians 2:13, Ephesians 2:5) and qualify as "nonverts" rather than converts who feel absolutely no spark of life after being stillborn into the modern politically-correct church.
While the notorious reformer, Martin Luther, shouted, "Sola Gratia - Grace Alone!" yet the renowned Lutheran minister, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, identified the same deadly pitfall for current Christianity, "Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks' wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church's inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost ... Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."
Consequently, the cheap grace which the present, anemic Church peddles is dead and ineffective for the genuine transformation of the human condition or the salvation of men's souls! If we ever seriously intend to turn this nation around, then the American Church must return to Christ's original command, "Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again ... So don't be surprised when I say, 'You must be born again.'" (John 3:3 & 7) But without sincere repentance, spiritual rebirth is totally impossible!