Since returning to America on furlough, my heart has been oft broken by pulpits in our Baptist churches. I wrote over a month ago about how some Baptist preachers have only got the Gospel half right, meaning they preach salvation by grace and everything else by works.
Recently, I have been equally saddened and even angered by sermons preached in Independent Baptist churches that could have just as easily been taught at a synagogue or a mosque! Maybe you are shocked by this and if you are in a good, Christ-centered, Bible expositing church, then well you should be. Let me explain what I am talking about:
*Recently I heard a pastor preach about how to live a God-honoring life. His solution at the conclusion of the sermon was: read more good stuff, be around more good people, and do more good things! I was shocked. I was angry. If you are a Christian then you understand why: Christ is the only way we can honor God! Christ is the only way we can “be good”! But this pastor cut and pasted a verse from Proverbs, a verse from Hebrews about church attendance, and a verse from Ephesians (out of context) and transformed the good news of the Gospel into a hopeless, Christ-less self-reform program!
*Today I was in a church where the pastor preached about how to raise your family according to Deut. 6:5-9. He had six points of instruction after using this Old Covenant passage as his springboard that looked something like this: 1. Read the Bible to your kids. 2. Pray with your kids. 3. Talk to your kids about God as they experience life. 4. Sing often. 5. Be committed to church. 6. Serve God with your kids at church.
It’s interesting that all of these pastors find a way to work in “church attendance” and “church service” into their sermons though it had nothing to do with the text they were preaching from…or should I say text that they started with. If you could change the word “church” for “mosque” or “synagogue” and exchange the word “Bible” with “Koran” or “Torah” then you could easily exchange their sermon with that of any major monotheistic preacher including some other cults not mentioned here! The message is the same: works for reformation to please God!
That, however, is not the Christian message. The Christian message has Christ as the end of the law (Rom 10:4). No message beginning in the Old Testament can be a Christian message unless it culminates in Christ. The Christian message has the new birth in Christ as being the beginning of change for the new creature (II Cor. 5:17) Any message that teaches how to change yourself through “doing” and not through “being in Christ” is as useless and worldly as any self-reform teaching by doctor Phil. “Doing” the law has not changed us only left us more hopeless after failing. Christ in us is our transformation. The Christian message has the Gospel of the cross as it’s power (Rom. 1:15) and the blood shed on that cross as it’s sole cleansing agent of sin (Matt 26:28, Eph 1;7, Col. 1:14, Heb 9: 22) Any message that does not have as it’s power the Gospel is not a Christian message.
These are messages you can’t just substitute the name of another god or prophet for because no other god or prophet ever accomplished what Christ did on the cross nor taught what the New Testament teaches.
This is the “Shalom in the Home” generation that wants to use the good of all religions to make our lives better and learn how to “do life” together. But that is NOT the Christian message. I wonder how preachers whose job it is to study and preach the whole Bible miss the centrality of Christ, the cross, the Gospel, and his blood in any single message?
Check out this description of the popular TV program “Shalom in the Home” and ask yourself, “How does this line up with my church and the sermons from the church’s pulpit?”
Shalom in the Home is an American reality television series hosted by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach that debuted on TLC on April 10, 2006. The weekly one-hour prime-time program attempts to help families overcome difficult problems. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach provides advice about relationships, marriage and parenting. In each episode he works with one family for ten days to help them come to terms with their problems and find the skills they need to improve.