Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category
I drive a truck for a living so I spend hours on the road and so I listen to podcasts to pass the time. Most of the time I listen to sound doctrinal preaching. However, for the fun of it, I will often download sermons from churches I either know I won’t agree with or sermons from seeker churches just to hear what they are up to.
Over the past year or so I have listened to hundreds of seeker churches. And I’m not lying when I type hundreds. From the mega seeker churches to seeker churches in my geographical area, I have listened to hundreds of sermons. I’m not expert on seeker churches but I have been able to gather my thoughts on them. So here goes.
Let me begin with the positives. While my negatives will be longer, I do find a few positives in here.
First, the desire to see sinners saved. While nearly all seeker churches will never call people “sinners,” the concept is still the same. They seem to want to see people come to faith in Christ. Again, I would question whether the people are hearing the law and the gospel to save sinners but they seem to truly want to see people saved. Now could it be they just want a crowd? Sure. I don’t know their hearts. Only God does. Their words and actions seem to imply they want people saved but it might just be a desire for more people to come to their seeker church.
Second, somewhat preaching of a Christian worldview. By this I mean the seeker churches at least will point to the Bible as our foundation for our worldview. Take sex for instance. This is a favorite topic among seeker churches and most will point to a biblical worldview on sex. I appreciate that. As a sinner myself, I need to hear what the Bible teaches about topic X. Without the Bible, I am prone to follow my flesh and that always leads to sin.
Third, the desire to be real. While this can be overdone in my estimation by seeker churches, most want people to know that they are just like you and I. These are not “holy” men and women but regular sinners who are in the fight for faith in their own lives. I appreciate that. While I’ll have a little to say that is critical about this below, for the most part I acknowledge that all of us are sinners (Romans 3:23) and we all need Jesus and His grace. No one is perfect. None.
Fourth, in many cases I appreciate the desire to look like the community around them including interracial churches. God loves all people (John 3:16) and He sent His Son for all. Doesn’t matter the color of the person’s skin. Churches often are all white or all black or all brown or all yellow. While this is not necessarily sinful, it can be. I know of some churches that don’t want anyone but their “kind” with them. How sinful. The kingdom of God is made up of sinners who have been saved by Christ Jesus and this includes all races of people (Galatians 3:26-29; Revelation 1:5-6). Racism has no place in the kingdom. Seeker churches often seek to tear down the walls of racial divisions. I truly appreciate that.
Lastly, the love for children. Seeker churches seem to do a good job of building ministries focused on families and especially young children. I get it. Their target groups are mainly 20-30 year olds who have families. I’m out of that range now and my children are getting older but when I was in my 30’s, I remember thinking long and hard about churches that would help me pour into my children. Now I truly believe my job as a parent is to teach and raise my children in the fear of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4 and notice the emphasis on “fathers”). Seeker churches seem to know this and seek to build ministries designed to attract young families to their churches. It can be overdone here too but traditional churches can learn the value of trying to pour into the whole family.
The Critical Items
Now let’s turn to the critical items. There are many.
First, let’s talk about the preaching. I would rather label them “talks” after “Ted Talks” more than preaching. The preaching of seeker churches is just bad. All of them seem to want to be stand up comedians more than theologians and shepherds. The stories are usually focused on the speaker and all about them. The text of Scripture is never exegeted. I have listened to hundreds of sermons (yes hundreds) from seeker churches and not one has ever been expository nor has one ever dealt with their text in a contextual way. Not one. In fact, nearly every talk is topical and if they are teaching through a book, the chapter from the Bible is either never read nor is it dealt with. Doctrine is never preached. Now the seeker defense will be that A) they are not preaching to Christians but to the seekers. And B) they have community groups for doctrinal teaching. I find both answers lacking. 2 Timothy 4:2 says that the duty of elders is to preach the Word. The words of Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians elders (Acts 20:17) are worth reading (Acts 20:28-35). Seeker leaders seem to avoid doctrine as much as possible as I have yet to hear a sound doctrinal sermon yet. The talks also seem to me to always be on a beginner level. I think of Hebrews 5:11-14. Where is the growth? Where is the challenging of believers to go deeper in their knowledge of God and His Word (2 Peter 3:16-17)? Do people walk away from these talks understanding more about God, His Son, His salvation, and His Word? I think not.
Second, let me say a word of the elders of the church. The seeker leaders go out of their way to show how human they are. They want to be “real” to the people and especially to seekers. Yet this has become an annoyance to me. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 is clear about elders in the church. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 is tough and few disciples meet the qualifications there. I don’t. But I am not an elder nor do I claim to be. I am just a truck driver. That said, leaders in the church should be holy men of God. Not perfect. Not sinless. But holy nonetheless. The ESV uses the words “above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2). 1 Timothy 3:7 does mention that the elder must be “well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.” Outsiders are those who are lost, outside of the kingdom. Even sinners see that these elders are men of God. These are not men walking around “trying to be a real guy” but these are real Christians who love Jesus and while not perfect, they do desire to please the Lord. This act of “being a normal guy” has become old fast in the seeker leadership. And sadly, many of these guys along the way have fallen into sin. Just google fallen mega pastors and you’ll see the sad reality of that world. Ironically, in the desire to “just be a normal guy,” these guys become superstars and draw the attention of the devil.
Third, the lack of biblical discernment especially in regard to music. All of the seeker churches I have listened to try to have a kicking praise and worship band. Many include the smoke and lights. These praise bands are typically led by a 20 something who has skinny jeans on and they all wear cool clothes or just wear worn out jeans and a t-shirt. Now the dress to me is not the issue. God sees our hearts after all. That said, the cool praise bands often sing songs that are just poor in their doctrine if they have doctrine at all. Heck this song would qualify as a praise song today. The utter lack of doctrine in the seeker churches produces shallow, sappy songs that have little to do with the gospel or the glory of God. They sound good but that’s it. I can see why people are drawn to liturgical churches after being immersed in seeker churches. It is very sad.
Fourth, the lack of law and gospel. Most seeker churches either are heavy on the law (you need to do these ten things to help your marriage) or nothing at all. The gospel is always “pray Jesus into your heart” and nothing is typically said of repentance or even using the law to expose our sins (Romans 3:19-20). God’s law has a purpose (1 Timothy 1:8-11) and yet seeker churches avoid preaching the law to convict sinners or sanctify saints (the third use of the law). The Bible is balanced between law and gospel. Yet seeker churches are not balanced at all. In fact, I chance to say that they wouldn’t even know about law and gospel. The gospel should be preached at all times. I would argue every time the church meets because we are prone to wander. Martin Luther said, “Christians should preach the gospel every day to ourselves because everyday we are prone to forget it.” Without the hope of the gospel, all these “steps to a better you” are worthless. Without the hope of the gospel, we fall into despair and back into the flesh. “Ten steps” talks are not what we need all the time. We need the gospel consistently (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Without the gospel, we turn people into moralists which still leads them to hell.
I am no fan of seeker churches. I get what draws people to them (Isaiah 30:10-11). I remember the age-old quote, “What you win them with is what you win them to.” The gospel is not what is drawing these sinners.
My advice would be to flee these churches. I would much rather attend a Calvinistic church that preaches the Word of God than any seeker church. The pragmatism is simply too much for this old boy. I desperately need the gospel. I am lost without Christ. He is my only hope. He alone is my righteousness before a holy God (Philippians 3:9). I am undone without the grace of the Lord Jesus for this sinner. I need to hear more of Him less of me. I need to hear the gospel over and over and over again. My flesh hates the things of God but I must hear the gospel to remind my flesh to die (Romans 6:11-14). Further, I need the gospel because I am a sinner who needs God’s grace (1 Timothy 1:15).
“He is a heretic” is a common phrase thrown around by many who love theology. I have seen people named a heretic for simple disagreements over end times views. I myself have been called a heretic because I reject the teaching of the rapture of the Church. I have been called a heretic for rejecting Calvinism. I have been called a heretic once by a charismatic because I reject the “laughter movement” of the 1990’s. The term “heretic” is thrown around too much in my opinion.
And no doubt this has been true at times in Church history. The Anabaptists were severely persecuted by Martin Luther and the Reformers. Luther stands before the Diet of Worms and gives his famous stand for the Word of God only to turn around four years later and condemned the Anabaptists to death for their views on baptism. The Anabaptists were largely hated by the Reformers though the Reformers preached that we should test all things by the Word of God (1 Thessalonians 5:21). What was the main “heresy” of the Anabaptists? Baptism of believers by immersion. The term “Anabaptist” was applied to them because the term means “two baptisms” because the Reformers stood with Roman Catholicism in agreeing with infant baptism and thus condemned the Anabaptists for re- baptizing adults whom the Reformers saw as already baptized because of their infant baptism.
In our day baptism is not so much the issue. Most Reformed who hold to infant baptism (and even some Arminians as Arminius held to infant baptism) reject that we should kill those who baptize by immersion. They also reject that those who hold to believer’s baptism would be heretics and vise versa. There is peace there in this debate.
Yet there are positions that some hold to be heretical that I don’t consider necessarily heretical. I might not agree but I don’t think that there are heretics nonetheless. I once did in some cases. Years ago I use to view myself as the orthodox believer and all others had to fall in line. Not so now. After dealing with my own sins, I see my need for God’s forgiveness and grace and I see that I fall terribly short in many ways. I need reforming myself and I praise God for His grace towards me (1 Timothy 1:15). I rejoice that perfect theology is not the standard for salvation. Who could be saved? The standard is you must know you’re a sinner and see your need for a Savior. That is me (Luke 19:10). “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17 KJV).
So what positions do I know see as non-heretical though I might not agree with them.
Calvinism – A few hold that Calvinism is heretical. I don’t. I see them as my brothers and sisters in the Lord and greatly love my Calvinists friends and family. Some of my favorite preachers and teachers and theologians are reformed.
Open Theism – Though I am not an open theist, I don’t believe that all open theists are heretics. They are wresting with the mystery of divine omniscience and how this works in a free world. By the way, Calvinism wrestles with the same issue though they go the opposite of the open theist.
Conditional Immortality – This is the position that rejects eternal conscience torment in hell. I know a few brothers who condemn brothers who reject eternal conscience torment in eternal hell as heretics but this should not be the case. Men such as Edward Fudge have wrestled with the texts and reject eternal conscience torment while maintaining salvation as a gracious gift from our eternal God.
Original Sin – I know brothers who reject the doctrine of original sin. Most Arminians reject the Calvinist teaching on original sin yet I know some who reject the teaching altogether and believe that babies are born sinless while born into a sinful world. While I can see how this teaching could lead to perfectionism teachings, I don’t believe these brothers are rejecting original sin because they have not searched the Scriptures. I am somewhere in-between on this teaching and aligned more with inheriting a sinful nature from Adam while not inheriting Adam’s sin.
Infant Baptism – I hold to believer’s (or better Christian) baptism by immersion but I don’t reject those who disagree with me as heretics. I know of godly Arminians who hold to infant baptism and love them as brothers. We all agree that salvation is based on the finished work of Jesus Christ and not in our works (Titus 3:5-7).
KJV Only – While I completely disagree with the KJV only camp, I know some godly men who preach the gospel while holding firmly to the KJV. By the way, I even know a Reformed brother who would qualify as a KJV only follower but he is not extreme and loves the Lord Jesus. The truth is that Jesus saves us by His grace (Ephesians 2:1-9) and not by our Bible translations. I was saved using the NIV. Others have been saved using the KJV. God saves us by the gospel (Romans 1:16-17) and not by our Bible translation though I do believe a good Bible translation is vital (for example the erroneous New World Translation of the JW’s though I read a testimony of a brother who was saved even by the NWT).
Soul Sleep – I know some brothers who hold to soul sleep. These are not Seventh-Day Adventists but actually Reformed brothers who hold to this view. While I am not sure on the doctrine, I don’t believe a person is a heretic for this view.
Perfectionism – I know a few brothers who hold that they don’t sin anymore. One guy boasted on Facebook that he had not sinned in like 22 years. While I think that this view is really stupid (yes just stupid), I praise God that He saves us from ourselves by His grace. I once held mildly to this view. I completely reject it now. That said, I don’t think that a person is completely a heretic because they teach this. I think the teaching leads to bondage and not freedom and puts too much emphasis on us and not on the work of Christ for our sins (Ephesians 1:7) but I don’t necessarily think these people are complete heretics who know nothing of God’s love.
Various End Times Views – These too many to tell. All seem to want to label the others are heretics. I am not there. I am a partial preterist but I don’t reject those who disagree. I reject dispensational theology but believe dispensationalists to be saved. I reject premillennialism but hold them to be brethren in Christ. Again, the standard for salvation is not our end times views but our confession of Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9-10).
Charismatics – Again, like the above, too many to label. While I do think some charismatic teaching is very bad (see the Prosperity Gospel for example) and there are many bad teachers in this bunch, I know many godly Pentecostals and charismatics who truly love Jesus and desire to glorify Him. Some of my heroes of the faith are Pentecostals who taught me how to pray and how to love and study the Bible. I have such great memories of godly Pentecostals teaching me how to witness, how to pray, how to worship, how to love God, how to think of Christ in all we do, etc. While some want to label many in this group heretics, be careful as there are many godly saints here.
Seeker Driven – I am not a seeker driven church guy. Never have been. Never will be. I have attended some seeker churches in the past and I think its a joke. That said, I don’t think that all seeker pastors are heretics and I’m sure that many of them do love souls and long to see people saved. I praise God for that. While I reject their model and often their tactics and will continue to preach against them, I don’t think they should just be labeled heretics. I think many of them are probably orthodox in their theology while holding to church practices I disagree with. I’m okay with that. Of course, I pray that many of these leaders will come out of this movement and preach the whole gospel but that beyond the point here. Again, Jesus saves sinners and not theology perfectionists.
I closing I pray that you extend me grace here. If you hold to these people above being heretics, perhaps you’ll throw me in there too. I pray not. I am nothing. I am a sinner who needs Jesus. I confess that need. Don’t follow me or you’ll end up in hell. Follow Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2).
I listen to a few seeker churches on my iPhone while I drive my truck (I drive an eighteen wheeler for a living). During long hauls I can listen to two or three sermons depending on the drive. My wife says that I’m mad for listening to the seeker churches because they often make me cranky and I start ranting (as I’m doing here) about them. My problems with the seeker churches are too many to post here in a blog post. I could never willingly be a part of a seeker church for many reasons. Doctrine is the first and foremost. The utter lack of doctrine in seeker churches is disturbing to say the least.
I have been listening to one of the seeker churches for the entire year. Each week their sermons come to my iPhone. You got to love technology! I had a friend who started attending this church about 6 years ago. He still goes there. He once had a fire for the Lord, was a man of prayer and holiness, and loved to share the gospel with the lost. Those days are gone. He is a shell of his former self now that he attends this church. I place the blame at the feet of my friend but also at this church as well. They have convinced my friend that evangelism is easy as inviting “the unchurched” to his church. The church does the rest. The entire “weekend” is designed to attract the “unchurched” and they are specific that they want the “unchurched” to come and not feel like they are at church. I have often said that seeker churches remind me of cults in that they get you in before springing the trap and letting you know what they are about. In this case, get the “unchurched” coming to church and then wait for a few weeks before telling them they must “receive Christ into their hearts” if they want to go deeper. It’s like an Amway seminar. Only worst.
The rant here today is not about the seeker church I’ve been listening to this year but a new one I picked up just this week. I use to be friends with a youth pastor (when I was a youth pastor) and he always seemed to lean this seeker way. I remember once taking to him about how I wanted to build a youth ministry that revolved around prayer and the Word and he laughed and said that I would never have a large ministry if that was my formula. I followed him via social media after he moved away and watched him head down this seeker trail. He bought into the seeker pragmatism hook, line, and sinker. He begin to tweet a lot of seeker posts and I noticed his preaching was more and more becoming like seeker pastors I knew of. He ultimately started a church in the Charlotte, NC area and followed the likes of seeker gurus Perry Noble and Steven Furtick. Despite obvious doctrinal disagreements, this seeker pastor ignored that because “they are growing” and that was the bottom line.
He started his church and now he rolls out “series” sermons like Noble and Furtick complete with the works. The stage is focused on the series. The series is pushed though social media and social media is used during the talk. I sent a few of his talks to Fighting For The Faith and hope they will review them.
Here is my rant. Theology. The seeker churches ignore theology. I have listened to all the sermons from the one church this year and a few from this newer podcast and theology is utterly lacking. The twisting of Scripture is bad. For example, one of the seeker pastors preached on “Shake It Off” based on the Taylor Swift song (yes you read that right) and preached from Acts 28 where Paul “shook of the snake” and he in turn turned the snake into problems and other things that we just need to shake off. What a poor use of Scripture!
Numbers is the focus. That is the bottom line. I well remember emailing a seeker pastor back in the early 2000’s and he responded back with “I run 700 people on Sunday morning. How many do you run? E-mail me back when you get to that number and I might listen.” I was emailing him over his poor doctrinal preaching. His response: pragmatism.
I remember another preacher going to hear modalist T.D. Jakes. When I questioned him about this he responded by saying that Jakes’ church was huge and he could just feel the anointing on Jakes when he preached. Never mind that Jakes is a modalist (the Trinity doesn’t matter much). Never mind that Jakes is a false prosperity preacher. Never mind that doctrine seems to not matter at all to Jakes. Jakes’ church is big and that is enough. Pragmatism.
A crowd does not equal the blessing of God.
I pass the Kingdom Hall’s all the time while working and I can tell you that they are packed. It seems they are growing and I have my suspicions as to why. The Jehovah’s Witness are no doubt a cult. They are doctrinally wrong. Nothing more than modern day Arians. Yet they are growing because of the seeker churches in my estimation. Week after week the seeker churches are packed but doctrine is not to be found. In fact, doctrine is avoided at all costs. It amazes me that seeker preachers often will have to point out where a book in the Bible is. For example, when the above seeker pastor preached from Acts 28, he felt he had to point out where Acts is. Further, his “background” to Paul and Acts 28 was horrible. He felt he had to use “cool” language and to be funny throughout his talk to get people focused. But at the end of the day, he taught nothing. Nothing. He didn’t teach false doctrines. He taught nothing. And this is true of every seeker sermon I have heard. Let me repeat that: I have never heard a seeker sermon yet that has taught me anything. They are masters at saying nothing.
And thus cults grow. People do want doctrine. Contrary to what the seeker churches believe. Doctrine does matter to folks. In Acts 2:42 the first thing Luke records that the new disciples of Jesus did was to devote themselves to the apostles’ doctrine. First thing listed was not “worship” or “small groups” but doctrine. Cults come and fill the void. The reason seeker people leave to join the Jehovah’s Witnesses or other cults is because doctrine.
After the seeker churches go off, I turn on John MacArthur and a breath of fresh air comes in. MacArthur is the opposite of these seeker churches. He preaches doctrine. He preaches holiness. He preaches the Bible and seeks to exegete the text faithfully. Sometimes, for fun, I will listen to a seeker church and then pull up MacArthur preaching from the same text and its night and day difference.
Over the years I have been out witnessing only to run into a group of people from seeker churches. Sometimes they will ridicule me for preaching on the streets. Sometimes they talk to me and I try to reason with them about their “conversion” as 100% of them believe that “saying the sinner’s prayer” is how you get saved. They are often completely ignorant of church history or theology. They will say “I just love Jesus” but when I try to find out which Jesus they love, they don’t know. I can often point out that the Jesus they say they love is the Jesus of their own imaginations and not the Bible. Paul the Apostle warned about this in 2 Corinthians 11:4 and Galatians 1:6-9.
Am I thankful for seeker churches? No I am not. I truly believe that persecution is soon coming to the Christians in the United States and this will probably end the seeker church as we know it. Most of the seeker churches will either close up or they will complete their compromising by abandoning true faith altogether in favor of the praises (and most important, the money) of men.
Sadly, many godly churches I know of feel the need to imitate these seeker churches. I remember when Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Church led to the demise of denominational named churches. Now we just have “Calvary Church” or “Christian Life Church” to avoid the obvious doctrinal distinctive that are there. Now we have the cool fad among seeker churches to get the coolest name you can find for your church. Either way, doctrine does not matter. They would say only Jesus matters but they don’t even know if the Jesus they preach is the Jesus of the Bible.
I highly recommend you to read John MacArthur’s book Ashamed of the Gospel for a truly biblical look at the seeker church. I pray that many saints of God will love the gospel and love the truths of the Bible (Romans 1:16; 1 Timothy 4:16; Titus 2:1).
It’s Donald Trump versus Hilary Clinton. That is the election of 2016. How I wish there was another option. I believe both are the judgment of God for the United States. Both are not conservatives. Both are weak in many areas especially morality. We have Trump in one corner with his womanizing and with his past of corruptions. We have Clinton in the other corner with her lies and with her pro-murdering position on abortion (though Trump clams pro-life now, he has always been pro-murder on abortion and even now has made statements in support of Planned
One dear brother told me of the two he is most afraid of Hilary Clinton because the Rodham’s were once godly people who walked with Christ. The Rodham’s came to America having been sent over here by John Wesley to spread the gospel. In fact, Hilary Rodham claimed John Wesley as her favorite person from history until she was in college and turned liberal and made Saul Alinksy her senior thesis while attending Wellesley College.
Who is Saul Alinksy you ask? He was a notorious radical from the 1960’s who wrote the book Rules for Radicals. He has become the hero of the American left including both Clinton and Obama. The #BlackLivesMatter also follows his “rules.” Alinsky once said this:
ALINSKY: … if there is an afterlife, and I have anything to say about it, I will unreservedly choose to go to hell.
ALINSKY: Hell would be heaven for me. All my life I’ve been with the have-nots. Over here, if you’re a have-not, you’re short of dough. If you’re a have-not in hell, you’re short of virtue. Once I get into hell, I’ll start organizing the have-nots over there.
PLAYBOY: Why them?
ALINSKY: They’re my kind of people.
On June 12, 1972 Alinksy suffered a heart attack and met the God whom he hated. He will not be leading an organization in hell. He will be destroyed along with the devil in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).
In short, Hilary Rodham Clinton is a woman who once read the works of John Wesley and idolized him. Whether she was ever born again, I don’t know but I do know that she knows her family history and she knows why they came to the United States and it was not to build a socialist state. The Rodham’s came to preach the Lord Jesus to the lost souls here in the new world. She is a woman who now hates Christianity whereas Trump is just ignorant of the gospel.
My prayer is that both Trump and Clinton would repent. Both need the gospel. I am praying for the rich family history of the Rodham family to awaken Hilary to the truth of the gospel. I am praying for our leaders to repent of their wicked sins and their wicked views on many issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and that they would turn to Christ for His forgiveness.
So what will I do? I am not a political guy. I don’t write about politics much on this blog. That said, I will likely either abstain from voting (which would be the first time for me since I was 18) or write in a vote. Right now I am leaning toward writing in a vote. I will not vote for Trump or Clinton even if that means giving the victory to Clinton (which polls point to). I view both candidates as wicked so a wicked person will be in the White House yet again. We are seeing the passive judgment of God as we read about in Romans 1.
The hope of the gospel is that Jesus will reign forever (Psalm 110:1). The gospel will crush His enemies (Daniel 2:44). I have the hope of the gospel in my soul (Romans 1:16-17) and nothing will stop the work of the gospel. Neither a sinful President or a religious but lost Pope will stop the work of Christ. Neither a wicked woman like Clinton or a wicked man like Trump will stop the gospel. The gospel will go forth even if the United States turns to socialism and away from capitalism and the strong Protestant work ethic this nation was built upon. The gospel will go forth just as it has in communist China and just as it has in Africa. The promise of Acts 2 will not stop simply because a wicked person is in the White House. The Lord will be glorified and sinners will repent even if the tide is turning toward wickedness with each new day here in the United States of America.
May God have mercy on the USA and send a revival and not merely here but in the entire world. May the Lord Jesus be glorified through a revival that sees sound doctrine preached and lost souls repenting.
I’m not always the biggest Jordan Hall fan but this sermon he preached on racism is worth hearing. I subscribe to his podcast and enjoyed this sermon very much. I agree with him. The answer to our national troubles (and world for that matter) is simple: the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing else can transform like the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:17).
My prayer is that the Church will preach the gospel. The answer is not found in summits, endless articles on race, giving in to socialists like #blacklivesmatter but rather the answer for the Christian is simple: preach the gospel. Preach the gospel to all men (Matthew 28:19-20) and make disciples of all men. Jesus died so that all colors of people can come and be one in Christ Jesus. Just as the Lord divided the people because of their sins in Genesis 11 so the Lord reunited His people in Acts 2. That is the power of the gospel.
This will be another short post on race before I move on. Many others are weighing in on race here in the United States and my voice is just one among many.
I want to add that if we see race first in a person before we see them as made in the image of God as a human being, we must repent. Certainly I agree that God made us with color. All of us. But that does not define us as people. If you strip away my color, I am no different from my Japanese neighbors or my black neighbors or any other color. We are all human beings. We are all made in the image of God. This is the Christian truth. Secular humanists tell us that we are nothing more than pond scum but we are not. We are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) and we know it. We must see each other as people before we see race or culture. God does not favor the Jew above the Gentile. He loves both and sent His Son to redeem us all who are children of Adam (Romans 5:12-21; Galatians 4:1-6).
I love how Paul the Apostle was willing to lay down his race for Christ. In Philippians 3:2-11 we read:
2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Notice that this Jewish man laid down his Jewish identity for the sake of Christ. He was willing to trade in his culture, his religion, his everything for Christ Jesus. That should be our call as well.
You see I am not first a white man. I am not first an American. I am first and foremost a disciple of Jesus Christ. I am a Christian. I happen to be white. I happen to live in the United States. I speak English. That is not what defines me. What defines me is the gospel. I am a sinner redeemed by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9). I was dead in my sins and my color would not change that. I was dead in my sins and my nationality would not change that. I was dead in my sins and my parents could not change that. What changed me was the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26).
If we see that people are in need of Jesus because they are human beings, that is the heart of God (Matthew 28:19-20). People need Jesus. All people. All colors. All creeds. All religions. There is no other way to God but through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). He alone is our mediator before a holy God (1 Timothy 2:3-6). Jesus alone shed His blood for our salvation (Matthew 26:28; Galatians 2:15-16).
Let me close this by pointing out that Paul loved his race. Paul prayed for his race to be saved (Romans 10:1). There is nothing wrong with loving your people. But don’t let that define you. Don’t allow your race to define who you are. Let the gospel inform you. Notice that while Paul loved his race, he prayed for their salvation earnestly and he also preached to those outside of his race (Acts 13:44-48). Paul even rebuked Peter for being a hypocrite with the Jews from Jerusalem (Galatians 2:11-14) because it hindered the gospel to the Gentiles.
My prayer is that the Church would rise up and lead the way of preaching the gospel of peace to a sinful, hateful world. Jesus came to die for all sinners (John 1:29) and He alone can bring peace to this storm. The hope for the races is not found in government or wars. It is found in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel will bring true peace. The gospel can unite sinners like nothing else. May the Lord have mercy on the United States and send us a revival of truth.
Racism is always a hot topic. I grew up in the South of the United States. As most people know (who know history), the South was mainly where many of the Africans came when the US brought slaves over in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. The North and South fought the Civil War (not primarily) over the issues of slavery. The US Civil War brought a new history of racism to the South. After the Civil War, Northern leaders forced Southern plantation owners to give up of their land to the new freed slaves. The idea was to help former slaves become independent but what it brought was hatred from the Southern whites toward their former slaves. After the era of Reconstruction ended just a few years after the Civil War, the South created “Jim Crow” laws which ensured segregation and when the US Supreme Court upheld “separate but equal” rulings, the South created law after law to keep former slaves down.
I grew up long after the Civil War was fought of course and I grew up in a integrated society. In the 1960’s, the Civil Rights movement begin in the South and brought down the Jim Crow laws. This was a good thing in my estimation. For the life of me, I can’t understand how Christians could hate people based on the color of the skin. How in the world do you read John 13:34-35 or 1 John 4:20-21 and still approve of racism?
When I was in elementary school, my school was mainly white. The black friends I had were great and we got along well. When I got to middle school, they forced three schools to combine because of race (two of the schools were about 80% black or higher and the middle school I was suppose to attend was probably 80% white). The whites who could went to private schools. The school went from 500 students to over 1200 students (in middle school) with over 70% black. It was here that I begin to see racism like never before. This racism was aimed at me for my skin color.
Over the next 7 years of school (my high school today is 100% black but at the time was about 90% black), I was taught that I was guilty of many sins against the black man for it was my ancestors who had owned slaves. I was taught that whites should be ashamed, forced to pay money to blacks for the sins of our fathers. I was taught that the problems with the black community could be laid at the feet of whites. I was hated for just being white. And in turn, I begin to hate back.
Now to be fair, I played baseball in school and had black team mates and we got along great. I also had black friends outside of sports who were dear to me. Keep in mind also I was not saved.
At 17 I was saved. This opened my eyes to my own racism and to my need to repent. Our Bible study group was mainly white but we reached out to black pastors and black students to try to bring healing and show the power of the gospel to bring down divisions. The church I attended had several black families in it and I loved them dearly.
My point here is that I saw where racism was (in our wicked hearts). I saw how it was fed. We were taught in school that we were products of naturalistic evolution. We were just glorified animals. We were not created in the image of God. I could see how racism could grow in that environment. We are nothing but animals. You kill an animal, it just ceases to exist. No right or wrong. Only animals. The whites use to point at the blacks and call them “monkeys” while I am sure black people called us names as well. Racism was alive and well and why should it not be in such a wicked environment.
Look at our world today. For the last 50 years we have been teaching nothing but secular humanism. We have taught that people are animals, that evolution is true, that morality is based on individual liberty. We have taught people to look to the Government for help, to fight your battles, to solve your problems, to take from your neighbor and give to you. We have rejected the gospel as a foundation. We have turned our back on our Christian heritage. We have been taught to kill just for the sake of killing and there is no God so nothing will happen anyway. And we wonder why racism still exists? We wonder why wicked sinners kill?
When I begin to see that my black neighbors are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27 ) and that Christ died for them, that changed my views. I would be lying if I said that all racism is gone from my heart. I have to fight it but I fight it with the gospel. Jesus didn’t die for Jews only or for Gentiles only but He died for all sinners (Luke 19:10; 1 Timothy 2:3-6). The gospel goes out to all people (Matthew 28:19-20). In Revelation 5:9-10 we read that God has His people from every tribe, tongue and nation. God is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:10). The Bible is clear that whosoever can call upon the name of the Lord and be saved (Romans 10:13). Thus the gospel is not for Jews only but for all (Romans 11:32).
What our society needs is the gospel. The gospel tears down the sins of our hearts. The gospel brings people together in unity like nothing else (Ephesians 2:14). The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7) and Jesus shed His blood for all races. When we see that people are created in the image of God, we see that they are truly loved by God (John 3:16). The Chinese person. The Japanese person. The white person. The black person. The Hispanic person. They all are made in the image of God. They are not animals. They are loved by God and He desires to save them by His grace.
My prayer is that the gospel will go forth and save every racist. The truth is that Jesus died for all sinners (Romans 3:23) and all sinners need salvation which comes not by skin color or by language but by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). The gospel is color blind. The gospel is the cure for our society because the gospel transform a man into seeing that another man is created in the image of God. The gospel shows us that despite our culture or our color, Jesus shed His blood for our salvation. The gospel shows us that heaven will be full of all kinds of people (I rejoice to see that day!). When we see people thorough the gospel, this transforms how we see people for we don’t see a person by their skin color or their creed or their language but we see them as people made in the image of Almighty God.