Barack Obama has taken diplomatic skill to a whole new level. This video courtesy of www.onion.com . . .
Obama To Enter Diplomatic Talks With Raging Wildfire
This video is an excellent satire that highlights the delusions of grandeur that world leaders can have and also the delusions Christians can have in the political process. We should support things that are morally right and stand for righteousness - this is all part of exercising the biblical worldview. But the only way to bring about genuine change is to prioritize our energies towards the proclamation of the Gospel. Because the heart of the human problem is the problem of the human heart.
Only God can change that sinful heart. We may receives plenty of good counsel on how to conduct ourselves or bring about change but it will all turn out to be a complete failure with no positive results unless conversion lies at the heart of the process. From that point on godly counsel serves as a valuable outlet to demonstrate how God has changed us inwardly. Please hear me on this – there are good programs out there but unless God has done a regenerative work in our hearts the program becomes worthless. This is the issue that must be explored before all others.
The issue of being transformed or “saved” by God has become the Evangelical no-brainer of the 21st century. We all like to think we’ve got a tick in the salvation box and it’s time to move on to more interesting stuff. If that is your thinking then you need to take a holy pause. It can be a dangerous assumption to think that we or our neighbor are “right with God”, especially if there is no outward fruit of inner transformation. I have to confess that I spent many years of my Christian walk with only a shallow understanding of the Gospel. When I stopped trying to move on from it and started to mine deep into it I was able to find pearls of wisdom and treasures of truth that transformed my life. To correct a famous quote of Billary Clinton “it’s the Gospel stupid”.
Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron have an entire ministry (Way of the Master) focused on understanding, experiencing, and articulating the Christian Gospel rightly. They do a lot of interviews and street witnessing, and regularly speak with professing Christians. This has made me acutely aware of the massive subculture out there who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and deny Him with their lifestyle. Christianity for most of these people hinges on good works, church attendance, birthright, or baptism. I think Keith Green summed it up well in the seventies when he said that “going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to McDonald’s makes you a hamburger”.
But easily the most deceptive and alarming trend that Ray and Kirk have exposed is the multitude of professing Christians out there still living in slavery to their pet sins all the while entrusting their salvation in a ”sinners prayer” that they once recited. I’m not saying that altar calls are totally wrong, but what I am saying is that prayer does not save people – it is the One we are praying to who saves us (provided it is the biblical Jesus) and initiates a miraculous transforming work within us. Jesus told Nicodemus “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3b) and that “unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5b). Jesus is talking about a lot more than a sinner’s prayer here. What Jesus is referring to with water and Spirit is explained in Ezekiel 36.
I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness (there’s the water), and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you (there’s the Spirit). And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:25-27)
It is God Who is speaking in these verses and it is worth noting how He explains conversion and Who it is that does the converting. I will sprinkle clean water on you; I will cleanse you from all your idols; I will give you a new heart; I will remove your heart of stone; I will put MY Spirit within you; I will cause you to walk in MY ways; I will cause you to obey MY commandments. God does everything when he saves someone – even the ability to walk in obedience is a gift from God. This is what happens when someone is truly born again.
Please understand that this is not about judging every person’s salvation. But it is a call not to take salvation for granted. It is a call to heed the Apostle Paul’s advice to the church in Corinth (II Corinthians 13:5) and “examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith”. To see whether we are bearing the fruit of the Spirit that testifies to His inner work. CJ Mahaney always reminds his church members to preach the Gospel to themselves daily. In his book “The Cross Centered Life” he says:
These are God’s promises to all who respond to His wonderful plan of salvation. Too many of us have moved on from that glorious plan. In our never-ending desire to move forward . . . too many of us have stopped concentrating on the wonders of Jesus crucified. Too many of us have fumbled the most important truth of the Bible, and therefore we’ve suffered the consequences (p17).
And I have really labored this point because it gets so easily bypassed in our haste for practical solutions to every conceivable problem. Genuine conversion and the resultant indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the foundation that must be in place in order for us to enact all other biblical principles. Wherever we are in our relationship with God, let us pause and take stock. May we come humbly before God and examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith. May we fervently explore the endless depths of Christ’s love for His Church demonstrated in the cross.
Weekend A La Carte (October 21)
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