Arminian Today

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I read this quote today from a popular modern church book that is seeking to teach people how to be the church and how to make the church attractive to the world (the unchurched in this book).  The author said this:

In our search for common ground with unchurched people, we’ve discovered that, like us, they are consumers. So we leverage their consumer instincts. By the way, if your church has heating and air conditioning, you do too. When you read the Gospels, it’s hard to overlook the fact that Jesus attracted large crowds everywhere he went. He was constantly playing to the consumer instincts of his crowds. Let’s face it: It wasn’t the content of his messages that appealed to the masses. Most of the time they didn’t even understand what he was talking about. Heck, we’re not always sure what he was talking about. People flocked to Jesus because he fed them, healed them, comforted them, and promised them things.

This man admits that he has created their church with a focus on consumers (in this case the unchurched are the consumers).  So his church offers them things to keep them coming.  Not so much in material things (of course not since his church needs the money to fund their multi-sites) but in giving them upbeat music, “relevant” preaching, and a warm environment for them to be seekers.

I shake my head at this sort of teaching.  Who is the church for?  When I read the book of Acts I see the disciples going out and obeying the words of Jesus and preaching the gospel to the lost and in turn making disciples (Matthew 28:19-20) but I don’t find them buying a building, setting up programs to attract people and then crafting a popular message to keep them coming.  I find them preaching the gospel and the reaction of the people is either revival or a riot (see Acts 19 for example).  I see Paul the Apostle writing this in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25:

18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

20 Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 22 For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

You want to understand the people of the world.  Here you go (Romans 1:29-32):

29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

So what is our hope?  What can we do?  We preach!  We preach Christ to the lost.  He saves sinners by His grace.  As we preach Christ, His Spirit opens hearts to the gospel (John 6:44).  What we need to understand in our day is not how to connect with the lost but we need to know the power of the gospel to save sinners (Romans 1:16).  We need to rest in the power of the Holy Spirit to convict and to save (John 16:8-11).  We need to trust in the grace of God to save sinners (Ephesians 2:8-9).

In closing, the church is to prepare the saints to do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16).  The church is created for the saints of God.  It is the ekklesia of God.  The ekklesia are the called out ones (1 Peter 2:9).  The church is to meet to encourage one another in our race (Hebrews 10:24-25) and then to go out and preach the gospel to the lost.  We go to the world and don’t wait on the world to come to us (Acts 1:8).  This mentality of creating a consumer driven ministry that attracts the world is not biblically based.  I pray that this man would repent of these teachings but I fear that he is making too much money, has too much power, and thus it will not cease.

The consumers of Jesus’ day, the crowds that followed Him looking for stuff (John 6:25-26), were told that they had to eat His flesh and drink His blood to have life in them (John 6:53) but they were unwilling (John 6:66).  Peter gave the right answer in John 6:68-69 and I pray that I would too.  The world will praise Jesus for a moment and then want to kill Him as they did in His times.  We must preach the radical demands of Jesus (Luke 9:23-25; 14:25-35) and preach that He alone saves by His grace.  This message will not be popular but it saves.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/07/2014 at 2:32 PM

One Response

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  1. I couldn’t agree more. The commerce-focused approach to faith in our day is truly tragic and outside the revealed will of God in His Holy Word. Your citations are excellent!
    Another relevant text is John 2:23-25. The Evangelist notes the “consumers” who followed due only to “miraculous signs” (vs 23) garnered this reaction from the Messiah: “Jesus would not entrust himself to them because he knew all men” (vs 24, NIV 1984). So much for a consumer driven congregation.


    01/07/2014 at 9:04 PM

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