Throwback Thursday: I Make A Decidedly Putrid Message (And So Do You!)

Putrid works

This post first appeared on July 5, 2017.

In recent years, the notion that we can “be the message” has resurrected the old cliche, “Preach the Gospel–if necessary, use words.” The social gospel movement, in particular, capitalizes on this cliche for the purpose of using works of charity almost in place of preaching the Gospel. They rationalize that, because of their acts of service, people will ask what motivates them to serve, thus opening the door for evangelism.

In an effort to discern the validity of this popular idea, we need to examine it in light of what the Word of God teaches. I’ll refer to several Scriptures, so please click the links; quoting so many of them directly in one blog post might put me in danger of violating the ESV copyright permission.

I agree that a person’s behavior, in general, demonstrates his true beliefs. James 2:14-26 indeed maintains that “faith without works is dead.” Jesus Himself warned that He will reject those who call Him Lord while actively disobeying His commandments (Matthew 7:21-27). The proponents of the social gospel must be commended, therefore, for their desire to address the obvious disconnect between what evangelicals profess to believe and how we actually live. The non-Christian world sees our hypocrisy, and uses it as an excuse to reject Christ.

That said, our good behavior, in and of itself, can only (at best) lead people to ask us about the Lord (1 Peter 3:15). Of course, we should remember the broader context of this verse. 1 Peter 3:8-22 offers guidelines to Christians in the midst of suffering for their commitment to Christ. The First Century believers to whom Peter originally wrote amazed their critics by clinging to Jesus when simply renouncing Him would have liberated them from persecution. They did far more than live good lives. They proclaimed Christ in an empire that made such proclamations punishable by death.

Their potential martyrdom went far beyond “right living.” Good behavior certainly reflects God’s standards for personal holiness, but without accompanying words about the grace of God that transforms a sinner, such good behavior degenerates into self-righteous morality that the Lord considers putrid (see Isaiah 64:6).

As a matter of fact, dear readers, not one of us leads a life that replaces the need to articulate the Gospel. We are declared righteous by virtue of the Lord’s death, burial and resurrection rather than by our deeds, meaning that our lives continue to be tainted by our proclivity to sin (see Romans 7:7-24). We should, of course, walk in obedience to the Lord, but we dare not entertain the notion that social justice is enough to win anyone to Christ.

The Gospel requires that you and I actually talk about sin, hell, repentance and the fact that only Jesus provides salvation from God’s wrath. We can dig wells, help children with disabilities and run food pantries all we want, but unless we accompany those activities with a clear proclamation of the Gospel, people will see no difference between us and members of the Elks club. And they’ll be looking at us, not at the Lord Jesus Christ.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The Damage We Can Do

 

Psalm 19V14 B&WI want to believe that Brett Kavanaugh is innocent of the sexual assault charges leveled against him. I’m not sure what you want to believe about them, through I reckon your leanings largely depend on your political convictions. As do mine. To honor the Lord in this matter, however, we should set our political agendas aside and pray that the truth would come out.

The fact is, neither you nor I were there on either occasion. We can’t condemn him, nor can we exonerate him. We weren’t there, folks! We have no way of knowing what happened. We can only agree that if he’s guilty, he certainly shouldn’t serve on the Supreme Court.

But what if he’s innocent? What if these women Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: September 2 — September 8

Twist Blend Flowers Sampler

There’s nothing like studying Scripture itself, ladies. I love the way Michelle Lesley constantly encourages us to turn away from canned Bible Studies (which usually aren’t doctrinally sound) in favor of cracking open our own Bibles. Look at The Mailbag: How can I get started studying the Bible itself? for her practical suggestions.

Dealing with people who say God spoke to them or talk about other manifestations can be tricky. Never fear! Clint Archer of The Cripplegate offers great counsel with How do I evaluate claims of supernatural experiences? He has some superb ideas. But we need to question his assertion that he’s Clark Kent.

Hannah Roberts-Antunes invites us to #CheckYourHeart in her post for Biblical Woman. Notice the encouraging twist she brings out from Scripture to distinguish godly self-examination from morbid introspection.

Is It God’s Will to Always Heal? by Tim Barnett of Stand To Reason tells the heartwrenching story of his friend Alex, who has brain cancer. Learn how false teaching multiples this young man’s suffering.

In Things Above Us, Allen Nelson IV writes How to Cut Up Your Bible as an encouragement to cherish the Word of God. In the current evangelical climate, we sadly need reminders like this one. As an added bonus, Nelson produces some of the finest writing I’ve ever seen in a blog post.

Check out John Ellis’ Why Sex Outside Marriage Is a Sin in adayinhiscourt for a perspective that often gets ignored. Whether you’re struggling with sexual temptation yourself or you’re raising teenagers who need guidance in this area, you can certainly benefit from this article.

Why is personal holiness dependent on avoiding false teaching? Mike Ratliff of Possessing the Treasure answers this question with Personal holiness is not an option. I love this demonstration of using discernment for godly reasons.

Take a look at Phil Johnson’s Biblical reasoning in A Gospel Issue? He gets to the heart of why so many of us see serious danger within the evangelical embrace of the Social Justice Movement. And, if you haven’t done so already, please consider signing The Statement on Social Justice & The Gospel.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Throwback Thursday: The Gospel, Pure And Simple

In light of current events within evangelicalism, I believe this article from March 17, 2017 is an important reminder of the Gospel message. Let’s not obscure it.
3D Cross Mother of PearlProfessing Christians use the word “gospel” all the time, but sometimes we get so caught up in tangential matters that we forget the Gospel itself. I’ve been guilty of this type of spiritual amnesia many times. As I’ve confessed before, for example, my involvement in so-called Christian psychology led me to consider the possibility that anyone who espoused the principles of pop-psychology (whether they confessed Jesus Christ openly or not) might be saved. Obviously, at that point in time, I’d forgotten the Gospel.

In recent years, the Lord has graciously used a variety of Christian preachers, teachers and bloggers to help me appreciate the importance of preaching the Gospel to myself. Doing so reminds me that, apart from the shed blood of Jesus Christ, I’m a vile sinner deserving of nothing but eternity in hell.

Simply put, the Gospel proclaims that Jesus Christ died as the substitute for all who believe in Him, bearing the wrath of God that our sins incur. He was buried, and three days later God raised Him from the dead as evidence that He accepted His sacrifice. By the power of the Holy Spirit, we respond to this grace by repenting of sin and believing in Him.

Now, the Gospel definitely has ramifications. True believers can’t remain in sinful lifestyles, for instance, because we understand what our sin cost the Lord. Titus 2:11-14 makes it clear that the Lord saved us with the purpose of making us holy.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (ESV)

Throughout this blog, I write about various aspects of walking in holiness as redeemed women. And that’s definitely fitting. But all week, I’ve felt convicted that I needed to remind my readers (and myself) of the basic Gospel. If we allow anything to obscure the fundamental truth that Jesus Christ died and rose again on our behalf and for His glory, we risk embracing a false gospel that, left unchecked will inevitability bring us to damnation.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Disappointing Discoveries About God’s Will

God's Will

Before becoming a Christian, I gravitated toward various forms of fortune telling (usually for the purpose of knowing whether or not my romantic aspirations would be gratified). After my conversion, I ardently sought prophecy and “words from the Lord” that would help me determine His will for my life. There’s something in human nature that demands to know how our individual lives will unfold.

In my Bible reading this morning, I thought about the quest to know God’s will as I read Continue reading

Growing Old Gracefully? Don’t I Wish!

Woman's Head Profile Oval FrameDo you ever find yourself doing exactly what you always promised yourself you’d never do? The classic example, of course, is suddenly hearing your mother’s words (the exact words you vowed you’d never utter) come flying out of your mouth. Yeah,  it horrifies you when it happens, and you mentality kick yourself for days afterwards. What got into you? How humiliating!

I’d decided in my mid-thirties, that I’d age gracefully. I cut my hair to an age-appropriate length soon after turning 40, and traded in my lacy ruffled blouses for more tailored clothing. I even combated my feelings of jealousy when younger women started doing the types of ministry that had once belonged to me, realizing that I’d had my turn.

For quite a while, I was actually doing pretty well at transitioning from middle age to being a <gulp> senior citizen. Actually, I was quite delighted to Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: August 12 — August 18

Blendies SamplerIt never hurts to return to the foundational practices of our faith.  So Greg Peterson’s Back To The Basics: Bible Study You Can Do in Parking Space 23 shows us a simple Bible study method that relieves the feelings of intimidation many of us have as we approach God’s Word.

On the Grace To You blog, John MacArthur writes Social Injustice and the Gospel to introduce a series of articles he’ll be writing on this current trend among evangelicals.

If you or anyone you know is involved in Bible Study Fellowship, I beg you to read (and share) Amy Spreeman’s forward, BSF Leader resigns; warns members about 2018 Study on the Naomi’s Table blog. Amy shares a Facebook post by Linda Davis, who resigned from BSF as a result of reviewing the e-book for this fall’s study.

Debi Martin, who blogs at Sojourner Between Worlds, gives a brief overview of Ezekiel’s Amazing Message, with an emphasis on Ezekiel 16. This blog post reminds us that the Old Testament offers wonderful instruction to Christians as it chronicles God’s dealings with Israel.

Christians do have liberty in what activities we can enjoy. At the same time, liberty carries certain responsibilities. In Twisted Tuesday — Liberty or Sin? Christians Drinking, the author of Biblical Beginnings looks at alcohol consumption from a point of view that frequently gets overlooked.

Walking us through the familiar story in Daniel 3, Mike Ratliff writes The King’s Golden Image in Possessing the Treasure. He holds the example of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego up as a contrast to many professing Christians in 21st Century churches. His post epitomizes what I’m trying to do with this blog.

In his sobering article for The Cripplegate, Eric Davis lists the many Consequences of Sexual Sin.

Yes! I’ve been saying the same thing about The Foundations of Christian Discernment for years that Lara d’Entremont says in her article! Oh ladies, I beg you to take what she says very seriously, knowing that negotiating 21st Century evangelicalism requires as much discernment as we can possibly get. Please make this blog post a high priority.

I appreciate the thoughtful post Michael Coughlin makes in Things Above Us. Who’s the Weaker Brother, Here? questions the demands of Social Justice Warriors  by using Scripture to examine their attitudes.

Leslie A lists Six Hated Truths from the Word in Growing 4 Life this week. Her post brings home the realization that, no matter how gentle and winsome we are in presenting the Gospel, people will despise its message until the Lord opens their hearts to believe it.

Justin Bullington, who also writes for Things Above Us definitely speaks for many discernment bloggers with his post, Why We (Still) Warn Against Beth Moore. I occasionally monitor Beth Moore’s Twitter feed, and it grieves me to see how many women (and sometimes men) hang on her distortions of Scripture. Absolutely, we must continue praying for her repentance, but we must also warn people that she repeatedly mishandles God’s Word.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin