Over a period of time, I have been taking stock of what we are producing as the American church. Now, maybe it would be better for me to be more specific and say that I am taking stock of what we are producing at Capstone Church. The reason that I started by saying “The American Church” is because of conversations that I’ve had with other pastors in this city. I included them in this talk because it seems as if we are struggling with the same thing.
I had a discussion with a group of area pastors last week in which the question was asked, “What would city wide transformation by the power of Christ look like?” This question led to another interesting question:
“At what point do you consider a person converted?”
You see, the pastors are facing a similar problem. They are having people join the church but are not seeing the changes that accompany true faith in Christ.
Just this week, I looked at the testimonies of our most recent group of new members. As I read, I found that many did not or could not answer a question asking them to explain their salvation experience. While not trying to read too much into this, it did add to the concern that was within me.
Could some folks not explain their salvation experience because they had not truly had one?
Needless to say, this was a sobering thought for me. I thought about the conversation with other local pastors. I considered the general spiritual condition that I am seeing in our country and city. I considered the “revolving door” of Capstone Church: people coming and going; making a profession of faith and then disappearing.
It leads me to what I want to say to you today.
First, I want to apologize.
While having a deep desire to see people converted and changed by the power of God, I fear that I have not been explicit enough in my spiritual challenges. The enemy of our souls has spent much time laying a foundation in this nation that must be confronted and exposed and I don’t think that I have emphasized certain points enough to expose the lie and point to the narrow way of the true Christian walk.
Several years ago, the educational system of America began to embrace certain ideologies in their teaching modules. One of the ideologies embraced was that of the inherent goodness of man. I have touched on the origins of this ideology in other teachings so I want go there today, but I want to reveal how this belief, when unconfronted causes the church to produce congregants that are not converted.
The belief in the inherent goodness of man basically states that man’s nature is morally good and that, when presented with an accepting, transparent atmosphere, an individual will grow into their potential. It also teaches that man has the ability within himself to know the way he should go when he is living under the right conditions.
Recent studies show us that people in America ages 30 years old and older are more unhappy with their life, their surroundings and prospects for the future than any preceeding generation.
So, we have people who are not happy with themselves and/or their environment. So, they come to the church hoping to find an environment conducive to growth and guidance that will help them find the answers.
When they get here, we love on them, which is good. We talk to them about the importance of belief which is good. We tell them that if they believe that Jesus is the Son of God and believe that God has raised Jesus from the dead, they will be saved, which is true.
But, we forget that demons know that Jesus is the Son of God. We forget that they know that Jesus has been raised from the dead and we wonder why people who believe that cannot live as disciples of Christ.
Well, think of this: they come in here believing that they are basically good; that in the right atmosphere and with the right guidance, they can find the way to live their lives successfully. We tell them “believe” and they do, yet this does not change them.
Because we are not telling them the whole truth. We are not confronting the lie told them by the devil so they are not making Jesus Lord but using Him as a key to personal growth.
The truth is they are not good. When confronting the people around him on the day of Pentecost, Peter laid out the following truth:
“Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death.” Acts 2:22-23
The truth is not that we are basically good and in the right atmosphere and with the right beliefs, we will find our way. The truth is that apart from Jesus, we are wretched sinners and murders of Jesus Christ Himself!
My sin and your sin murdered the Son of God!
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
We are not good people, who need a little bit of love and guidance, we are wretched sinners that need a new life! Unless our sinful self dies, it will live on to continue in self exalting, self placating, self indulgent behavior. The old self must be crucified and if it is not, it is doomed to judgment by a God we have spit in the face of by rejecting the truth about our true nature and His own glory!
We are not called to “patch up old lives” but to kill old lives and see a new one raised to life by the Spirit of God!
Yes, we need to believe, but our belief better start with the knowledge that we are wretched, satan inspired, Christ murdering, sychophantic parasites – or we are left with flesh controlled, selfish, lives believing that all we need to do is change the way we think and everything will be fine.
Most people believe they don’t need death, they just need a little tolerance and guidance. If they have that, they will figure the rest out on their own. They don’t need to die, they just need to fix up the parts that aren’t working.
They become believers in Jesus who are walking down the broad road to destruction!
Jesus loves you but He isn’t here to patch up your life but to be your Lord!
When you get a chance, read the following verses:
Mark 10:18, Psalm 53:3, Jeremiah 10:23, Romans 7:14-25, Romans 6:1-11, Mark 2:21-22
May God bless you and lead you into a life that is truly alive in Christ!