How can we cheapen the church? Part II
Published 12:06 pm Wednesday, June 7, 2017
In the previous column, we walked through six ways we can cheapen the church. We will conclude answering this question with five more.
First, easy-believism may cheapen the church. This response says, “I’ll ask for forgiveness later.” Please study 1 John 3. It gives us a definition of a true Christian. How is it evident who is a child of God? It is the one who practices righteousness. Yes, Christians sin and know they sin (1 John 1:8). But, one who repeatedly refuses to repent is one who has not tasted the transforming power of God’s grace. Easy-believism expects no fruit in the Christian life to prove true belief. But, the Bible teaches that when someone testifies to their conversion to Jesus, the proper response is joy, but it also is “time will tell.”
Second, antinomianism may cheapen the church. This response says, “Jesus is cool with my sin.” An antinomian is one who is free-spirited, without rules per se. But, the Bible gives us a clear demarcation between what is sin and what is not sin. We should not sin for grace to abound (Romans 6:1-2). A true Christian rejects the belief that sin doesn’t matter because it will be forgiven. Sin does matter. It is so serious that it took the blood of Jesus to satisfy the wrath of God against our sin. The Christian does receive forgiveness and pardon through Jesus, but the Christian’s heart is transformed to desire to live for Jesus.
Third, legalism may cheapen the church. This response says, “I’m a Christian because I go to church.” No friends, 1 John 4:19 explains, “we love because He first loved us.” We don’t love Jesus in order to earn his love. We don’t go to church in order to earn his love. We go to church because we love Jesus. Church membership does not save anyone. It may be evidence of salvation but it is not hard proof. One could be a member with legalistic motives, but God is not impressed with you. He is impressed with his Son Jesus. Are you in the Son?
Fourth, unbiblical patriotism may cheapen the church. This response says, “America is the shining city on a hill.” Yes, America can be a light to others, to use that biblical metaphor from Matthew 5:14-16, but America is not the light to the world; the church is. It is the church that has been called to be outposts of the coming Kingdom of God. Be patriotic. Stand during the national anthem. Give to our veterans, but when we gather as the church on Sunday, we are not gathering as Americans, we are gathering as citizens of a coming Kingdom of Jesus. We have much more in common with the immigrant next to us in the pew that loves Jesus than we do our unbelieving American neighbors.
Fifth, ethnocentrism may cheapen the church. This response says, “your church is down the road.” Yes, there are culture differences in the way services are conducted in predominately white churches and predominately black churches. But, we should be praying for our churches to reflect the diversity of the community. Jesus has ransomed people from every race (Revelation 5:9). Racism communicates to the world that we are divided, not truly offering a Gospel to all peoples. But, the Gospel speaks louder to the community when despite our diversity, young and old, male and female, citizen or immigrant, black or white, we show unity because of our common Savior. We are called to be ministers of reconciliation, not racism.
Matthew Homan is the pastor of Eureka Baptist Church. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.