People are Nice – Are Believers Nicer?

by Eric Burd

People are nice…

I am sitting in Terminal 3 of The Leonard di Vinci Airport in Rome. I wish I were smarter, but in spite of being an experienced flyer I was utterly confused by the matriculation process of this airport. I used “matriculation” on purpose. Some of you may not know exactly what that means…which makes my point, exactly!Leonardo di Vinci Airport

Anyway, many nice people have gone out of their way to help me successfully negotiate the realm of Rome’s Airport. I have gone to the wrong terminal, waited through the wrong lines and made a variety of other seemingly reasonable blunders. Yet, miraculously, I have missed no flights and all my baggage has arrive as planned. In self-defense, Internet reviews informed me of a fire in Terminal 3 earlier this year. Since, there has been a spate of confusing changes to their processing of passengers. This leaves me some comfort as well as having inspired me to leave plenty of time for do-overs.

But now as I sit and await the final leg today, it seems so clear that God did indeed make man in His image. Yes, there is much of Adam in humanity – but there remains much of God. And while I reject Pelagius’ assertion of man’s intrinsic goodness, natural men are capable of habitual kindness and relative goodness. With exceptions, it is largely a pleasure to interact with the wonderful human beings that co-occupy this planet with us. People seem to be the same everywhere. They generally want to be helpful, to be nice. Oh, they may be in the midst of stressful personal challenges, or just having a bad-hair day and drop the ball. But generally people everywhere try to be kind to strangers needing help. And as I contemplated this reality, a sudden sadness swept over me. I am sitting in Rome, maybe the titular capitol of Christianity. Yet, Italy, like the rest of Europe, seems so secular and nominal in their Christianity.

So, what of all of these “nice” secularists, modernists, Christians-in-name-only, and even the growing Muslim population? What happens to all these nice people? They are scurrying around, living their lives with most having no idea what awaits on the “other side.” As believers, we know that if they have not met Christ, they are going to stand defenseless before the Great Judge. They are going to perish. And what about believers? We are saved. We have been accepted as sons by the same Great Judge. Guess we were just nicer people, huh? Of course not! We may not even be nicer people, but we are made acceptable to God by the blood of Jesus.

As I was sharing my faith today with Bruno, my taxi-cab driver, I could tell that after a lifetime in Catholicism he didn’t know any more about his faith than he does about the Household of Faith (which I didn’t even tell him about). He did ask me what the basic difference between a Catholic and a Protestant was. In our brief 10-minute conversation I expressed a short version of Sola Fide with some brief outworking of the practical differences in the two streams of Christianity. Now, as I reflect on the day I hope that the conversation gave Bruno something to think about. I pray the Holy Spirit will penetrate our obvious language barrier with the Sword of Truth.

But something else comes to mind as well. Bruno was as lost and disoriented about Christianity as I was about negotiating this airport. His past experiences have ill prepared him to understand the gospel. They actually confuse him. And Bruno needed a “nice” person to “teach him the gospel more perfectly.” Of course, like all the nice people here at Leonardo di Vinci willing to help me, seeing Bruno stumbling around in spiritual darkness, I was glad to help him.

I concluded as well that if perishing men and women all around the world are willing to help lost strangers negotiate unfamiliar country, then maybe as believers we could be more proactive in helping the lost negotiate the Kingdom of God. Yes, people are nice – and as believers we ought to be the nicest of all. We ought to be especially willing to help the disoriented negotiate the most important realm in the universe.

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Gay or Straight, the Foundation Stands!

by Eric Burd

…if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Ps 11:3)

Two weeks ago the US Supreme Court re-visited its anti-constitutional role of legislating morality. By a slim majority they invented a requirement that all 50 states Rainbow Flagrecognize “homosexual marriage” as marriage. The Supreme Court decided this, but God did not! Who wins this tug-of-war? God, of course. And while a ceremony between two people of the same gender may be a secular contract, it will never be marriage.

Marriage is a God-designed institution. He created the law for marriage just as He did the law for gravity. God alone can define marriage, which he did in Genesis 2:24-25: Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. So there is no misunderstanding, in the original language the word for wife is the same word as for woman. For marriage to be ratified in heaven, it has to be between a man and a woman. The Supreme Court cannot change this principle. If they can, they can prove it by outlawing gravity, which should then cause things to fall up. Not likely.

As in most cultures, homosexuality in the US has always been recognized as abnormal – even by homosexuals. But with the rise of Political Correctness (PC) and its mantra of “tolerance,” we are abandoning boundaries of morality that God has long established. Not only homosexuality, but a variety of other sexual perversions are being christened by Lady Tolerance as “completely normal” and are tragically being accepted as such, even in “Christian” circles.

But Christians are not “against” homosexual people. We do not loathe or fear them and we long for their welfare as much as anyone else’s. We do, however, fear God. We fear the proven consequences of unrestrained sin in a society. We aspire to persuade men to godliness and to promote values that preserve a nation. Yet, when we do, we are labeled hateful and intolerant while we stand by waiting for the same court that venerates the proclamation of decadence to ban the proclamation of righteousness.

We should know that the real target of all of this is not the perishing masses. The real target is the church. The devil can read the Bible, too, and he is working to crumble the foundations of holiness! (I)f the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The “foundation” is sound doctrine, the story of the risen Christ. This message is prone to producing godliness. And when THAT foundation is silenced, what CAN the righteous do? Can you see the devil smugly perched on the conductor’s stand, looking down over our culture? With his conductor’s baton in one hand he is joyfully arousing a forte of perverse clamor. With the other hand he is softly hushing the right to a complete fading out. This is his plan, to utterly blur the lines of godliness while propping up a false righteousness of tolerance and non-judgmentalism. It is a one-two punch! Satan is peer-pressuring the culture into decline, while strategically discrediting the voices that would forestall its complete collapse.

Now let us be clear, the problem is not the presence of sin. “Closet sins” will always be with us. The compulsion of men to hide their sin actually signals a healthy society. The fact that so-called Christians can come “out of the closet” in the midst of the church without being contested is a sign of a sick church.

We must see “tolerance” for what it is: the perversion of the divine attributes of mercy and compassion. Mercy and compassion are most glorified as they accompany the gospel of repentance. PC’s tolerance is opposite to these. It is, in practice, tacit permission for men to destroy themselves and the innocent around them. Tolerance normalizes sin and numbs both the sense of conviction and the need for repentance. It leaves men and women on a spiritual “Titanic” where they sink into a frightful destiny while believing they are sailing into safe harbor. Tolerance is designed to propagate rebellion against God. It is a fiery dart being shot into the heart of the Body of Christ – where a bulls-eye results in Satan’s agenda for mainstream Christianity.

But – be not dismayed. We win! But not by acquiescing to this bad symphony. Regardless of the rising clamor of amorality, our voices must never fade. This very score was rehearsed in the mind of God from the foundation of the world. He, too, is on a conductor’s stand…the Great Throne of Heaven. And He has purpose in all of this. It will all be to His glory! John 1:5 says of Jesus: The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. That verse will never change. The Church’s One Foundation is Jesus Christ our Lord. Regardless of what society, Lady Tolerance, or the Supreme Court embrace, gay or straight – we know that the Foundation of Christ will always stand. Let us stand on that foundation, and proclaim it to the world!

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The Simplicity of the Gospel Legacy Model

by Eric Burd

Col 2:8-9 – Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

While becoming acquainted with the Gospel Legacy / Age-Integrated model of corporate worship, one thought that often surfaces is that is this style of church just too simple and unsophisticated to genuinely meet the needs of contemporary church members?

As we consider this thought, we might ask in return: “Is our contemporary Christian culture being spoiled by the fatal assumption that complexity and sophistication inevitably enhance ministry?” Are the rudiments (the principles, the elements) of this world leaching into the church in a destructive way?

Our forefathers would be utterly astounded by the “glitter” of the modern church. Now glitter, in its essence, is not necessarily a bad thing. If they genuinely point men to Christ, lights and music and media of most any sort may be okay. But the question really is whether all the glitter that has become commonplace in the American experience has genuinely enhanced spiritual growth for the common believer. It seems not. And while it is obvious that our forefathers would be stunned at the glitter of modern Christianity, would they not be equally dismayed at its dearth of lasting spiritual fruit?

For those who listen in on sports programs of any kind (golf, hockey, baseball, football, etc.) one common topic is how contemporary sport has become “a science.” Coaches, players, and pundits analyze, study, invent. But has it made the game more “fun” for anyone? I doubt it. It has lost its spontaneity. Oh, no doubt the athletes are more athletic. The coaches are coaching better. Reporters report with pizazz. And the fans? – they are more fanatical! In the end, however, left to the “professionals,” the game is simply out of reach. Fewer people are buying in to the preparation, exertion and/or expense now required just to have a “good time.”

Likewise, we strive to build “professional” churches. Christian ministry is becoming a science. The “science of church” is becoming increasingly sophisticated. You can almost imagine the celebrity preachers saying, as they peer at us through the silver screen: “Don’t try this at home.” All the while, becoming a shepherd in today’s church requires more and more extra-biblical training just to equip Christian leaders to operate the church’s many intricate features. But in the end, do our circus-like programs and magnificent structures actually enhance the spiritual dynamics of ministry? For us in the Gospel Legacy Church movement – it does not seem so.

In fact, many of us are asking whether God is actually resisting the prideful evolution of “high-octane” church. Research implies that up to 80% of American youth raised in churches are bleeding out into the culture, forsaking the faith. Could this inability to retain our children in the faith be due to our lack of humility? Can our children see through the razzle-dazzle which competes with our utter dependence upon the Lord Jesus? Is our flawless presentation somehow a substitute for surrendered worship, anointed preaching, and prayer? After 2,000 years of life, can the church no longer run on “regular?” Does a simple model somehow hinder members from connecting with God? And are there no “regular men” who are biblically qualified and available, who have the giftings to help a simple church to become a fruitful church?

From a Gospel-Legacy perspective, simple is better. Less is more. Thundering media, flashing lights, and refreshments will never summons the presence of God or enhance anointed preaching. Not that we have to summarily abandon invention, technology, or education, but let us keep our eyes on the Scripture. Let us continually evaluate the net impact of new philosophies of ministry. Let us even be skeptical of changes we bring that depart from traditional methodologies. Make new methods and programs prove themselves. Let us not judge our members based on their support of our programs, but let us judge the programs by whether they actually remedy the challenges that they were established to address. If not, let them die. Let us be ruthlessly honest about whether glitter is better. Church members do not need “contemporary” methods, they need Christ. And we believe that a simple approach to church, to discipleship, and to the presentation of the Gospel will make Jesus shine most brightly in this darkening age.

So just as the church has prospered through the millennia without the glitter of media, so it has prospered with men who have been raised up as pastors from within their own congregations. Do you remember the day when a man could go out and fix his own car under a shade tree? A few tools, a part from the hardware store, and some baling wire did the trick. Over time, cars got more complicated. Now, many of us resent the need for the specialized tools and training that have in effect disqualified us as “regular” men from even maintaining our own vehicles. God tells us in 1 Tim 3:1-2, If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.

The qualifications of an elder stand alone in the mind of God without the requirements of Bible college or seminary. If God says that this is what is required, it is enough! Early church elders arose from within their own churches without the benefit of formal schooling. And while there is nothing wrong with formal education as a supplement to biblical qualifications, God has always delighted in the calling of “regular” men to the role of elder/shepherd of their local congregations.

Throughout their lifetimes God has been preparing these men. He has been building in them a life of consecration and obedience to Him. At home, at work, and within society they have negotiated the challenges of our culture. God has used their unique relationships and experiences to prepare them for pastoral ministry, and much tension would be relieved in many churches today if a place of ministry was made for these men. They are called of God and should be given room to minister the Gospel.

We must recognize that these men are among us! – and in countless churches. Of course – their call must be tested. They must be vetted – mentored – trained. But that done, they have equal potential for fruitful ministry as their “credentialed” counterparts. And let us rejoice knowing that when the Chief Shepherd appears they will join with the assembly of God’s faithful ministers to receive the unfading crown of glory. (1 Peter 5:4-5)

Regular men, preaching a powerful Gospel, in a simple church. To the pastor of a Gospel Legacy Church, that’s just what the Scriptures ordered. We have tested it and we have seen its simplicity bear much fruit as we have abandoned … the rudiments of the world in order to help make the picture of Christ simple and clear.

Learn more at www.gospellegacy.org.

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An Unexpected Guest

by Dan Nichols

The date was February 12, 2014. It was early evening, and Sumter, South Carolina, was in the middle of a pretty severe ice storm. The power outage was slowly extending across our county, that Baby Handdreadful uncertainty of having no heat, power, or light looming “out there.” And then our phone rang. It was one of the men of our church. He and his wife were pregnant, and the baby was literally due at any moment. Their house was all set up for a home delivery, and the midwife (a friend of theirs) had already arrived from out of town with her infant child, supplies, and a suitcase in tow just in case. The couple’s other two children were ready, too, and excited!

After a little small talk, the man revealed that his power had just gone out. “Do you have power?” he asked.

And we did. So after a quick “Are you okay with this?” conversation with my wife, I invited his whole entourage to our house. It was one of those Holy Spirit-led situations where my wife and I just knew this was the right thing to do, even knowing the possibilities that we might encounter. The man on the other end of the phone said that he imagined the power would be back on shortly, that due to the mild contractions it would most likely be a while before the baby came, and that they appreciated us letting them hang out in the meantime. They arrived at our house at about 9pm.

Shortly after they arrived we began to notice that “little baby” might not be all that long in coming after all. The contractions became really strong, really quickly. It was a good thing that they had packed all of their supplies. We awoke at around 3:00am to the voice of the midwife saying “It’s time!”

So we jumped out of bed and set things up. Our den became a delivery room, curtained off by a sheet on the door. I became the babysitter for the midwife’s child in the living room, and my wife became a labor and delivery assistant in the den! About forty-five minutes later, we were blessed with the arrival of a precious baby girl, Phoebe!

That was February 13th of last year. And as we roll past that date on the calendar this year, I’m reminded of the precious opportunity God gave me to learn a truer sense of biblical “fellowship,” something we have been blessed with growing deeper as a result of being a part of the Household of Faith Fellowship of Churches. It’s one thing to say we share life together. It’s another thing for one family to have a baby in another family’s den!! We praise the Lord for the opportunity and blessing!

One last key element to the story . . . It turned out that the power outage lasted for a couple more days, so we were able to experience even more “life” together. The afternoon of the day of Phoebe’s birth, several of us took a walk down the street to get out, stretch our legs, and enjoy the frozen stuff that we get so little of here in South Carolina. Do you know what we discovered? The power outage had hit our section of town. It had come into our neighborhood. It had crept halfway down our short street! In fact, our house, and our short section of road (just a few houses,) was the only section with power for as far as we could get to on our short walk! There is no question as to the Lord’s hand in this adventure! Amen, and praise the Lord!

“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Needless to say, Acts 2:42 holds a much deeper meaning for me now! Happy Birthday, Phoebe!

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By Grace – Inadequately Adequate

by Eric Burd

Jesus and PeterIt was the best fish Peter had ever eaten, and for a fisherman on the majestic Sea of Galilee that was saying something! Yes, this promised to be a beautiful day as Jesus prepared a luscious meal for Peter and six of his fellow disciples on the seashore. What could be better?

Spending time with the Master had always been wonderful, but since Jesus’ resurrection, time with Him had been unusually sweet. Peter had betrayed, yes, but Jesus had recognized his remorse. He had forgiven Peter and all was well again between them.

Now just as Peter was snuggled in for a cozy conversation, out of nowhere came a shocking and disturbing question (author’s paraphrase): “Peter, do you still think that you are more willing to die for me than are the other disciples?”

Peter’s mind flashed back to the night of the crucifixion when he had boldly proclaimed, “Lord, though all forsake you, I will never forsake you.” Putting his stake in the ground, Peter stood tall. That commitment remained in the garden as Peter slashed the ear of the high priest’s servant with a sword, ready for mortal combat to save Jesus! But Jesus would have none of it as He was quietly led away to be tried.

Peter followed close behind, and we know what happened: Peter denied even knowing the Son of God. Now, sitting by the sea, Jesus’ words are like a slap in the face. Why would Jesus ask this question? Why would he bring this up now? Was this not forgiven? Doesn’t Jesus know how badly Peter feels? Looking into Jesus’ eyes, the question is inescapable: “Peter, do you still think that you are more willing to die for me than are the other disciples?”

What can Peter say? Another vow? Not now – it would seem an empty boast. He responds, “Lord, you know I have great affection for you.”

Wow. How lackluster. Peter had been the most daring! The first to declare Jesus the Messiah – even the Son of the Living God! On his own initiative he had stepped out of a boat into a violent sea. Now what? Where is his pledge? Where is his self-confidence? Willing to die for Jesus? Yes – sometimes. But sometimes not! His zeal for Jesus, burning hot in the garden, was ice cold in the courtyard. It didn’t make sense, not even to Peter. He only knew that at this moment he did not really know himself. He was unsure of his own commitment.

Jesus’ response must have stunned Peter and the others: “Peter, feed my sheep.”

Peter did not know his own heart, but Jesus did. He was testing Peter. Was the brash, impetuous Peter of three years ago still the same man? Had the revelation of his betrayal shaken his self-assurance?

Now, a second time Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me enough to die for me?

Again embarrassed, Peter answers, “Jesus, you know I have great affection for you.”

Jesus replies, “Be the pastor of my sheep.” How strange. Would not Jesus want the powerful, the confident, the “adequate” to be his shepherds?

But Peter could make no such boast. Confessing his lack of devotion, Peter is saying: “No promises, Jesus. I am unsure. I don’t even know my own level of commitment.” And under these circumstances Jesus commissions Peter to be a pastor of His Church? Wow!

Finally, Jesus lowers the bar, “Do you have affection for me, Peter?” Now this is a knife through Peter’s heart! Jesus knows all things. He could have assured Peter. He could have told Peter of his undying love. But no. Jesus merely asks Peter if he has affection for Him.

Heartbroken, Peter replies, “Yes, Jesus, you know all things, and you know I have affection for you.”

Jesus commands, “Feed my precious little sheep.”

This is a beautiful story. Not of Jesus’ unforgiveness or revenge. But this is a story of Jesus pressing upon His faithful servant the reality of man’s natural inadequacy for ministry. Peter’s insecurity was good and he would not find the only source of adequacy until the upper room at Pentecost, when we see him – by grace – stepping out to preach the Church’s first gospel message. Peter would then go on to a long and fruitful ministry, all in reliance, not upon the strength of his own commitment, but always finding his adequacy in the indwelling Spirit.

And for us, whether pastors or parent or in any other role, we must move beyond our failures. Not to ascend into higher levels of commitment and confidence, but to descend into our own inadequacy; using our many failures to pollinate our reliance upon the ever present work of the living Christ within us.

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Wisdom for Living

by Eric Burd

Like many of you, I really enjoy military humor. Some examples:

“If the enemy is in range, so are you.” – Infantry Journal
———— ——— ——— ——— ——— —–
“It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed.” – U.S. Air Force Manual
———– ——— ——— ——— ——— ——
“Tracers work both ways.” – U.S. Army Ordnance
———— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——
“Five second fuses only last three seconds.” – Infantry Journal
———— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——-
“Any ship can be a minesweeper. Once.”
———— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——
“If you see a bomb technician running, follow him.”
———— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——-
“You’ve never been lost until you’ve been lost at Mach 3.” – Paul F. Crickmore (test pilot)
———— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——-
“The only time you have too much fuel is when you’re on fire.”
———— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——-
“Friendly fire – isn’t.”
———— ——— ——— ——— ——— ——-
For most of us quips and quotes like these tend to tickle our funny bone. Containing a drop of sarcasm, they are mixed with a gallon of truth. They get our attention quickly and drive their points home without long explanation. Some are pithy sayings whose truths can actually keep men alive. But what makes these kinds of saying so memorable is that they give us a “handle” on obvious concepts. There is a discovery in each saying. It is not that we could not all have been able to come logically to the stated conclusion, but that we may never have slowed down long enough to have consciously formulated these conclusions the way they are presented.Flying Above the Fray

In our culture today, we live busy lives. Even as believers, we are often so busy “flying over” our lives that we can go long periods of time without considering responsibilities and relationships that are actually deteriorating beneath our “wings.” Operating at a frantic pace, we can move too quickly, making rash judgments while tending to walk and live in constant turmoil. We can become so absorbed in merely existing that we can forget the principles by which the Lord has called us to live, forgetting that God has given us His Word to help keep us from being lost at Mach 3.

God’s Word is here to help; to slow our lives down. The “brakes” of trust can calm us, keeping us from operating in fear and making snap decisions. The Word of God has a unique and irreplaceable power to set us at peace and to help us relate to Him and others from a biblical perspective. And the Bible is filled with sharp and pithy sayings that are even more real, powerful and relevant to our everyday lives than those above. God’s Word not only contains memorable sayings that can keep us alive, but they impart life! And the Scripture teaches that pondering its depths will help us maintain our godly orientation and Christian testimony through even the most difficult of times.

So, let’s go daily to God’s Word. Not only to take our Gos-pill, but actively carrying God’s Word away with us into the activities of each day. One way to do that is to draw from the Scriptures each day one saying or phrase upon which to meditate. With a little effort we can easily select one short phrase from most any passage of Scripture and prayerfully ruminate on it throughout that day, extracting from it all the “nourishment” that the Holy Spirit will give us that day. How deeply do we have to “drill” to find such meaning in:

– Matt 6:33 Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness….

– Gal 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

– Job 31:1 I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

– John 15:5 …apart from me you can do nothing.

– Ps 32:2 Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputes not iniquity.

Wow! Powerful stuff! How our lives would be different if we kept our minds upon the Lord throughout each day.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusts in thee. – Isa 26:3

Think on that … and find wisdom for living.

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Preach the Gospel – In the Church!

by Eric Burd

Traveling through the Pacific Northwest and, even in the midst of a driving rainstorm, you may be shocked by the absence of a very common article – the umbrella! Where in the world are the umbrellas? Not here! As amazing as it might seem, the folks in this area are so acclimated to rain, whether a trickle or a tempest, that one finds a surprisingly slim number of umbrellas being used. Of course, this is my own observation, no statistical data to follow, but my guess is that in this one place where one would most expect to see umbrellas, they may be found the least.

Now, if I were an unsuspecting visitor from a sunnier state I may conclude that theseUmbrella people in the Great Northwest are entirely out of the loop. Nice as they may be – they have obviously never heard of umbrellas. If they had, they would certainly be using one…or two…or three…each! But no, no umbrellas, or at least very few. So, with this impression fresh on my mind, I would be overwhelmed with opportunity. My entrepreneurial juices might begin to flow as I imagine running to the bank for the sure-fire financing of the Northwest’s first and finest chain of umbrella stores. Confident, I could see an umbrella shop on every corner of that entire region of the country.

But alas, not as out of the loop as they may seem, the people of the Northwest have heard of umbrellas. Most have even tried one. And some, believe it or not, even own an umbrella. They received it as a gift or won it as a door prize, and it’s still around somewhere. It might be on the hat rack or buried in the entry room closet, but they have one. They just do not use them. They have become so hardened to the rain, they hardly notice it any longer and are unwilling to endure the hassle of juggling umbrellas throughout the rainy season. They have tuned the rain out – and life-long church-goers can do the identical same thing with the gospel!

As pastors and teachers we desire to disciple our members. We aspire to great things for them. We desire that they experience the deep things of God and wish to take them on journeys to higher spiritual planes. Good. There are those that can take those journeys with us. But there are others who have sat in the pew under the “rain” of our preaching all of their lives who have completely tuned the gospel out. Some are so hardened that they barely notice it any longer.

Who are these folks? We often will not know. They act like Christians. They claim the title of “believer.” But they have never genuinely drunk from the water of the Word. They have never been born again. And it is likely that no church is unaffected when countless church members in our land have their spiritual umbrella over their heads while the living water of the gospel is being poured out. We may not, we should not, preach primarily evangelistic sermons every week, but a simple dose of the blood of Jesus in its convicting power is good for every congregation – on a regular basis.

The same gospel that saves us also sanctifies us. In fact, the good news can be extrapolated out into a maze of essential doctrines of Christ. But the good news in its simplicity, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus as our substitionary sacrifice, is well being preached in every congregation, regardless of the perceive level of maturity among the members. While the Invisible Church is the place where all have been genuinely transformed by the gospel, the Visible Church is the one place on earth most likely to house those who have been hardened by the gospel. How many have literally sat under gospel preaching all of their lives without ever once a heart response to it? They are out of the loop.

In 1983, in my first year of pastoral ministry, I met a fellow minister around my age. He and his twin brother were both pastors in our district, each pastoring their second church. They were raised as PKs, attending Bible College together. This dear brother’s testimony was that he was preaching a sermon in his second pastorate when, like a bolt of lightning, the gospel flashed in his heart for the first time. He got saved. Yes, the pastor got saved! (Which, of course, is a good thing – but preferably before he becomes a pastor.) But, who knew? He didn’t! He had thought himself saved all along, until the tempest of the gospel rained on his heart for the first time…then he put away his umbrella.

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