Friday, March 14, 2008

The Missing Question

There are lots of questions in life:
Commercial Questions
“Can you hear me now?”
Clichéd Questions
“Is this thing on?”
Silver Screen Questions
“Dude, Where’s My Car?”
Musical Questions
“Do You Know the Way to San Jose?”
Theological Questions
“Did Adam and Eve have belly-buttons?”

But, as important as these questions are, there is an even more important question that is missing from our society. This missing question was articulated by those who heard Peter’s sermon in Acts:

Acts 2:37 NIV
(37) When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?"

These men were asking, "What shall we do to be reconciled with God?" They were filled with a holy dread at the recognition that they had offended the almighty God, and they wanted to know what they needed to do to make it right.

Do people ask this question today? Are we as a society at all driven to do anything we can to be reconciled to God?

Color me cynical, but I see an alarming apathy towards God.

Apathy vs. Atheism
Atheism, the belief that there is no God, has gained ground lately. There is currently a world-wide campaign being conducted called the Blasphemy challenge. People from all over the globe post written and video blogs all intended to disparage the Christian God.

Atheism says there is no God, and you can posit rational arguments that challenge an intellectually-honest atheist. But what do you do with the person who acknowledges that there is a God . . . but they don't care?

Where does this apathy come from?

It all begins with the preacher
Romans 10:14 NIV
(14) How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

The integrity of the message lies in the effectiveness of the preacher. I believe, by and large, that the apathetic attitude towards God so prevalent in our culture stems from the humanistic preaching found in pulpits across America. This man-centered gospel has created a generation that no longer asks, "What must I do?" but rather, "What can I get?"

The net result is that we have a generation seeking the fulfillment of their flesh, not restoration with God.

This prosperity gospel creates a perverse relationship in which God is relegated to the position of a kind, old benefactor whose only purpose is to continually access His limitless resources in order to bail out his beloved. This approach to the gospel threatens to turn the Bride of Christ into Anna Nicole Smith!

Repentance Preaching
Notice the kind of preaching from Peter that prompted this question. He wasn’t afraid to place the burden of blame on the people:

Acts 2:22-37 NLT
(22) "People of Israel, listen! God publicly endorsed Jesus the Nazarene by doing powerful miracles, wonders, and signs through Him, as you well know.
(23) But . . . you nailed Him to a cross and killed Him.
(36) "So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!"
(37) Peter's words pierced their hearts, and they said to him and to the other apostles, "Brothers, what should we do?"

Too much preaching today seeks to pacify the listeners and make them feel comfortable. Repentance preaching emphasizes man’s innate sinfulness and subsequent separation from God. Then the love of God is fully demonstrated in His sacrifice to redeem us.
You cannot fully appreciate the God’s love without first understanding the sinfulness of man. Because of that, an honest assessment of the human condition must precede every presentation of the salvation message. It is much more powerful to realize that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. (Romans 5:8).

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