Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunday: Easy Christianity, Quick Conversion

THE PURPOSE-DRIVEN MOVEMENT MAKES CONVERSION a simple matter of saying the magic words, a mantra that makes Jesus the Mr. Rogers of the conscience. In his popular book, 'The Purpose Driven Life', author Rick Warren represents conversion in these words: 'Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you.' There is a pit of false hope in placing our faith in our words rather than in God's compassion to receive sinners to himself. Warren falsely (and dangerously) assures us of our salvation. He writes: 'If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God!' (page 59) How do I judge my own sincerity? The saving grace of salvation is located in a sacrificing, suffering and obedient Savior. Stakes this high can never rest on my sincerity.

When I read something like this, I do not recognize Jesus, the Holy Bible, my conversion or myself at all. Recently, on vacation in South Carolina, my husband and I went to a 'community church.' My conservative Reformed Presbyterian pastor and husband noted when we got back to the hotel room that we had just witnessed a service that contained baptism without water, preaching without scripture, conversation about disappointment without prayer....the distribution of flowers and trinkets without grace, and a dismissal without a blessing. Everyone was smiling, though, when it came time to walk out the door.

This church's conversion prayer was printed in the bulletin. It read like this: 'Dear God, I'm sorry for my mistakes, Thanks for salvation.' These misrepresentations of the Gospel are dangerous and misleading. Sin is not a mistake. A mistake is taking the wrong exit off the interstate. A sin is treason against a Holy God A mistake is a logical misstep. Sin lurks in our heart and grabs us by the throat to do its bidding.   Remember what God said to Cain about his sin? It's true for us all too;  In the fourth of Genesis, God warns Cain like this:  'Sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.' (Gen. 4:6)  In accepting misrepresentations of the gospel that render sin anything less than this,, you will never learn of the fruit of repentance.

---Rosaria Champagne Butterfield,  The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, an english professors journey into christian faith (pages 35-36 )

(I will finish up Tim Kellers book on true Christian joy next week.)


gcotharn said...

This is an opportune day for me to read this message, b/c, this evening, I am being baptized.

R.C. Sproul (and, I am confident, a huge number of other pastors and Christians) says something similar:

1. understand the gospel
2. incline your heart towards God.

Mrs. Butterfield (ha! it is fun to write "Mrs. Butterfield") points to the importance of understanding the gospel, and more.

I, myself, had this "understanding" problem. I understood part of the path to salvation, yet did not understand enough of the path to salvation in order to sufficiently immerse myself in the faith. For instance, I did not sufficiently comprehend why we are saved by grace alone (as opposed to earning at least a part of our salvation). Therefore, my faith did not kick into a higher gear until the last 2-3 years, b/c these last years have been when I understood, and when I became more immersed, and when I have first begun to sense the inner workings of God.

You have played a definite role in urging me to better understand, and to become more immersed. Thank you.

I am pretty sure it was the fashion posts which did it. I will show it in an equation:
fashion = art = beauty = truth = God.
See?! So, thanks for those fashion posts.

Webutante said...

Welcome to the Covenant of Grace and the body of Christs, Greg!God gets all the glory and credit for this one!

Hebrews 11: 1-16

11 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.

5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.”[a] For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[b] considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

gcotharn said...

Inspiring verse. It is nice to have a little fuss made over me, as you have done by offering the verse from Hebrews. Not too often, but, every once in a while, a little fuss is pleasant and sweet.

A podcast, of an interview with Mrs. Butterfield, which I enjoyed:

Asked about Christian relationship to homosexuals, she says Christians are terrified about what the gay influence upon their children will be.

She suggests, for Christians who want to outreach to gay persons:
Examine our own hearts. Take stock of what we believe and why we believe it. If we believe in original sin, and are talking to a gay neighbor and she says: "I was born like this," we can say: "Amen sister! I, also, have something which I struggle with."

If we believe in total depravity, and in the radical affect it has upon us, and upon every aspect of the culture in which we live: we really should not be put off by sin which might otherwise appear glaring to us.

One of the pastors on the podcast said something interesting:
"We have to allow sinners to act like sinners. A lot of Christians essentially want unbelievers to act like Christians. When they do not act like Christians, we distance ourselves. If we are going to be around people in this world, we must let them act like sinners: even around our children at times."

Webutante said...

Have been away all day, Greg, and just now getting back to the computer. Interesting comment and thanks for the link. You would like her book immensely, I believe. Will try to listen to her interview with Tim Challies soon as I can.