Photo By Dan Gold
This is a topic that I have been wanting to discuss and write about for some time. The issue I am raising is with the modern church. We tend to pick and choose the aspects we like about God, Scripture, Christ and the Church. As humans, we tend to stay away from things that make us uncomfortable. Deep inside we know something wrong, but rather than confronting it, we look the other way.
I recently listened to two sermons, one by John MacArthur Why Does God Allow So Much Suffering and Evil and the other by R.C. Sproul The Wrath of God in Preaching. After listening to both of them, I felt now was the time to write about this topic of à la carte Christianity.
I cannot recall a time when I have heard a sermon about Hell. Some pastors may have mentioned it in passing, but none of them have given an entire sermon on it. We love to talk about God’s grace, His mercy, His Love, His patience, His tenderness, His… you get the point. Don’t get me wrong these qualities and attributes of God are important. Yet, are only some of God’s qualities and attributes important, or all? Should we not also emphasize His wrath, Righteousness, and Justice? We are painting a false picture of God when we focus on the pieces we like and ignore the ones we don’t. In doing this, we are creating an idol, a false God. By representing God like this, we are not portraying the God of Scripture.
Why are we uncomfortable with talking about Hell? The most obvious answer is because Hell makes us uncomfortable. But isn’t that the whole point? Eternal suffering should deter us from ever wanting to go there. Hell should cause us all to fall on our faces and repent of our sins before a Holy Holy Holy God. If we want salvation for people, shouldn’t we explain what they are being saved from?
Christ spoke of Hell more than He did of Heaven. He wasn’t afraid of offending anyone, He was only concerned with the truth. Here are some very sobering passages from Scripture spoken by Christ:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” – Matthew 7:21-23 ESV
Earlier he says this:
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” – Matthew 7:13-14 ESV
So often we forget when reading scripture that it is God-breathed. That means these are God’s words, not man. Jesus says there are many on their way to destruction. Many who call Jesus Christ “Lord” are on their way to Hell. How can this be?
It concerns me with how many supposed “Christians” in our churches today are not Christians at all. They have not been born again, nor adopted into God’s family as sons or daughters. Many in our churches today believe they are right with God because they prayed a single prayer.
Once we accepted His work on the cross, what did we do with it? Did we say thank you and keep living our lives the same way as we did before? We are justified before God by putting our faith and trust in the person and works of Jesus Christ. Have we actually done this? Are we currently doing this? Have we seen the fruits of the Holy Spirit at work in us? More importantly, have others around us seen the fruits? Our lives should look radically different if we have been born again.
How can we accept Christ’s free gift of salvation, and not know Him? Are we accepting the gift of a false God who we are more comfortable with? Also, how can one receive salvation if they don’t understand what they are being saved from? I don’t see how one can be. After all, if you don’t know what you are being saved from, then why do you need saving?
This topic, yet again, enforces why theology is so important. I must admit that I have only recently begun to fall more and more in love with theology and the Bible. The more time I spend in Scripture the more and more I fall in love with Jesus and the God of the Bible. I can’t seem to get enough. Do you not find yourself falling in love more and more with someone as you begin to know more about them? I know this to be true in regards to my wife. The more I learn about her the more my love for her grows and I thank God for bringing us together. Why should the God of Scripture be any different? Actually, shouldn’t the God of the Bible be even more so?
When we pick and choose the things we like and disregard the things we don’t, we commit heresy. We are no longer worshipping the God of scripture. These are very serious sins and will lead us to destruction if we don’t repent of them.
When we learn about the character and nature of God, His glory is only magnified, not diminished. When we behold Him for who He is, our hearts leap and respond in worship like never before. When we get to things that make us uncomfortable we must remember the issue is not with God, it is with us. The issue is never with God.
When we profess our faith and trust in Christ we must trust His sovereignty. There will be times when we do not understand why things happen, but we must trust and know that the heart of God is good. When we are born again, God adopts us into His family. He is now for us and not against us (Romans 8:31).
When we practice a la carte Christianity we miss out on the richness of our new found lives in Christ. We don’t get to experience life to the full (John 10:10). We rob God of His glory, honor, and worship and also diminish the work of Christ. We belittle Him and actually play God ourselves in trying to determine what is right and wrong. It goes right back to the garden in Genesis.
The first sin that entered the world has been behind every sin ever since.
We need to preach, teach and study all scripture. We must not spend too much time focusing on certain verses, books or testaments for that matter. God has given us 66 books for a reason, and if one of them was irrelevant He would have given us 65.