God's Way, or Ours?

Evangelical Hubris (1)

And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” Mark 7:9

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The Scriptures teach that the Bible is “profitable” to prepare those who rely on it for “every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16, 17). Would we consider that the work of building the Church a “good work”? After all, building the Church is the stated agenda of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the reason He has given pastors and teachers to local churches (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 4:11, 12). Surely this is a good work?

If so, and I think we can agree on this, then it stands to reason that, in the work of building the Church, we should rely first and foremost, and above all else, on the teaching of the Scriptures. It would be the height of hubris, would it not, to do otherwise, and thus to suggest that we know better than God how to build His Church? The Word of God is profitable and clear about how we are to take up the Lord’s agenda and build the Church. It remains for us to ensure that this is, in fact, what we are doing.

Reponding to Sin

The Tragedy of Sin (7)

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

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More than Words
I don’t want to give the impression that the tragedy of sin is something that can be overcome merely by beginning to talk about it.

That would be a start, of course, but it’s only part of a broader strategy we in the Christian community must adopt if we hope to overcome the evil of sin with the Good News of the Kingdom of God. We have to start talking about sin, and we have to get back to talking about the Gospel. We must proclaim the Good News, and we must do so against the backdrop of the bad news that everybody knows about but no one seems to want to name.

The Evidence of Sin: The Slippery Slope

The Tragedy of Sin (6)

Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. Psalm 73:18

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Turning and Turning in the Widening Gyre
In his 1919 poem, “The Second Coming,” Irish poet William Butler Yeats envisioned the world spiraling away from its master and perch, deaf to the call to return home and headed on a course of dissolution and oblivion.

He might have been explicating Paul’s teaching in Romans 1.

As we saw previously, when people flee their perch on the arms of God – when they deny Him Who makes Himself clearly known to them – then they’re on their own to erect some deity agreeable to their thinking and desires, even though this is nothing but the product of their own best ideas.

The Evidence of Sin: Keeping God at Arm's Length

The Tragedy of Sin (5)

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened...because they exchanged the truth of God for the Lie... Romans 1:21, 25

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A Curious Phenomenon
As many Christians see it today, evangelizing the lost is a hopeless enterprise. People just aren’t interested in the Gospel. They don’t want to hear it. And so we oblige them by keeping silent about the Gospel before the very people who most need to hear it.

So in the churches we keep silent about sin, thus allowing the effects of sin to fester unchecked. And in the world we keep silent about the Gospel, thus allowing the effects of sin to fester unchecked.

And we wonder why the world is so screwed up?

The Evidence of Sin: Hardened Hearts

The Tragedy of Sin (4)

But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in his name.” Acts 4:15-17

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Not Going Away
The tragedy of sin is not going away any time soon. Preachers and church leaders who refuse to talk about sin are only allowing more space for it to grow and to wreak its devastating effects on the world.

Do we need more evidence that sin is still the great problem facing the world? Not only do many of our contemporaries deny that Christianity has been a source of much good in the world; they’d actually like to see the faith put out of business.

Or at least, confined to a limited place and role in society.

The Evidence of Sin: Denial of the Good

The Tragedy of Sin (3)

The herdsmen fled, and going into the city they told everything, especially what had happened to the demon-possessed men. And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region. Matthew 8:33, 34

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A Source of Evil?
Sin is a real and present problem among the people of the world. It is the great tragedy afflicting all men and women. And we don’t have to look too far to see the evidence of sin’s presence and power, for example, in the way sin blinds otherwise well-meaning and intelligent people to obvious truth.

British philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell was not a friend of the Gospel. In his book, Why I Am Not a Christian, Dr. Russell opined that Christianity has been the source of more evil in the world than anything else. In the name of the cross, Dr. Russell explained, Christians have launched wars, oppressed minorities, enslaved millions, and deceived the masses.

When Bertrand Russell thought about Christianity, all he could see were its evil effects, and he wanted nothing to do with it.

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