Posts Tagged 'Christianity'

Mystery of the Trinity, Part 1

If you like mysteries, then you’ll enjoy studying the Trinity! There is only one God and only one Trinity and it might well be the most difficulty concept to explain. It is, however, a vitally important doctrine to get right. Church history is littered with churches and groups that got it wrong. There’s an obscure verse is Psalm 50 that shows us why we all need to think correctly about our God:

When you did these things and I kept silent, you thought I was exactly like you. But I now arraign you and set my accusations before you. (Psalm 50:21 | TNIV)

It offends God when we think wrongly about Him. In fact, it’s idolatry to worship a God we have invented in our minds, no matter how sincere we may be. Thinking rightly about God leads to eternal life:

Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3 | TNIV)

And knowing God should be the life-long goal of every Christian, not just the eggheads and theologians among us:

This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let those who boast boast about this: that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:23, 24 | TNIV)

You may wonder how it is possible to know and understand God, after all, He is God and the finite mind cannot possibly hope to comprehend that which is infinite. Paul taught as much when he wrote his letter to the Christians in Rome:

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! “Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?” [36] For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen. (Romans 11:33 – 36 | TNIV)

But at the same time, God is understandable to man.

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived—these things God has prepared for those who love him”—for God has revealed them to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit within? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 2:9 – 11 | TNIV)

Clearly, there are some aspects of God’s nature and character that will never be known to us, at least as long as we are on earth in the flesh. But God has revealed as much of Himself as He deemed necessary and it’s up to us to study the Word to discover the wonder of our God. The more we know about God, the easier it will be to live in obedience to His will.

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29 | TNIV)

Only one God

The Jews call these verse the Shema and they form the foundation of the Jewish and Christian faiths:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (Deuteronomy 6:4, 5 | TNIV)

As we try to understand the Trinity, we need to keep these verses mind. There is only one God, not three. In fact, the word “trinity” means “tri-unity.” But there are different kinds of unity; absolute unity and compound unity. For example, here is an example of compound unity:

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24 | TNIV)

The “one flesh” is a compound unity because we know that when a man and woman get married, two people are involved but they don’t really become a single person in the literal sense.

A completely different word is used to describe an absolute unity, which suggests absolute oneness. Here’s an example:

Put on sackcloth, my people, and roll in ashes; mourn with bitter wailing as for an only son, for suddenly the destroyer will come upon us. (Jeremiah 6:26 | TNIV)

And another:

For I too was a son to my father, still tender, and cherished by my mother. (Proverbs 4:3 | TNIV)

Can you see the difference? “Absolute oneness” refers to a son, for example. He is related to both his parents; he came from both his parents, but he is his own person. That particular Hebrew word is never used to describe the Trinity.

The unity referred to in Deuteronomy 6:4 is compound unity because the word used for “our God” is Elohim, a Hebrew word written in the plural. So our “compound God” is “one God.” The doctrine of the Trinity teaches the unity of God as a compound unity, made up of three Divine Persons united in an eternal, essential unity.

The Shema was key in Hebrew theology and philosophy. Everything descended from the fact that there was only one God, not many gods. Jesus was confronted by some religious folk who intended to trap Him. Read the exchange, and remember that Jesus is the Son of God:

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. (Mark 12:28, 29 | TNIV)

As a member of the Trinity, Jesus was telling the religious leader that there was only one God, not multiple Gods. The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, helps us understand what Jesus was getting at.

So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. (1 Corinthians 8:4 – 6 | TNIV)

A problem had popped up in the Corinthian church concerning some members eating food (meat) offered to idols. Other members thought they shouldn’t be doing that because it was offered to idols. As far as Paul was concerned, where the food came from was of no import because the idol it was sacrificed to represented nothing because, as the Shema says, “there is no God but one.”

People may think there are other “gods,” but in truth there is only one. Other pagan religions have their so-called gods, but they are unreal and they are all subordinate to the only real, supreme God. The one real God is the Father, the source of all there is, and Jesus Christ is the one through whom creation sprang.

Three persons

There is an incident in the life of Jesus that gives us a glimpse into the working of the Trinity and the relationship that exists between its Members.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”. (Matthew 3:16, 17 | TNIV)

The things that jump off the page are the vision and the voice. The vision was the Spirit of God, in the form of a dove, coming down from heaven and lighting on Jesus. The voice boomed out, “This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” The former showed where the power Jesus would exercise during His earthly ministry would come from, and the latter an assurance that He was truly the Messsiah. The audible voice of God showed that the Father was pleased with His Son’s obedience, both to His will in being baptized by John, and ultimately in the Cross, the culmination of our Lord’s earthly ministry.

As far as the vision of the Holy Spirit goes, it’s debatable whether anybody but Jesus saw this. However, there is very compelling evidence that suggests Jesus saw it and John the Baptist saw it. The latter so that he would truly believe that his cousin was indeed the Messiah. It’s fitting, really, for the Holy Spirit to appear “as a dove.” The Holy Spirit, as mighty and as powerful as He is, is gentle.

The unity of the Trinity may be a bit of a mystery, but it should be something we believe in. Paul gives us an idea of this mysterious unity in his benediction to the Corinthian church:

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14 | TNIV)

As you can see, Paul knew that the members of the Trinity were all involved in various aspects of the lives of God’s people. Keep in mind that Paul wrote his letters and this benediction long before the Church wrote up any kind of formal doctrinal statement concerning the Trinity. From the Son comes grace. From the Father, Love. And the Holy Spirit creates a partnership in life among the believers. The members of the Trinity – all working together to support believers, both individually and corporately.

Distinctiveness

The fact that there is a union of three distinct Persons working together as Paul noted in passing is an important bit of theology. In the early 1900’s, a movement was spreading through the Church known as the “Jesus Only” movement. It was particularly strong in some Pentecostal denominations, where it was known as the “Oneness doctrine.” This doctrine stressed that there was only one person in the Godhead, Jesus. One version of the heretical “Oneness doctrine” held that the Father became Son who became the Holy Spirit. In other words, instead of three separate and distinct Persons who exist simultaneously, the Oneness people viewed the three Persons as consecutive, not simultaneous. A variant of this idea said that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all just manifestations of one God that take place different times and situations.

Though initially this heresy thrived in Pentecostal churches, many of those churches have vanished and others have renounced this heresy.  However, there are still evangelical churches today that preach a version of Oneness Pentecostalism. TD Jakes is a well-known denier of the Trinity. People like Jakes often use the word “trinity” but they don’t hold a traditional, Biblically orthodox view of it. Many Apostolic and holiness churches are non-trinitarian.

The Bible teaches that the Trinity is three separate and distinct Persons, yet one. Each member of the Trinity is the Godhead, yet conscious of the other Two. The Trinity is an eternal fellowship that has existed before the universe was created. God was never alone. That’s not to say there are three Gods. There aren’t. There is only one. The three members of the Trinity work together with a single mind and purpose. In that sense, the three are truly one. While the Father creates; the Son redeems, and the Holy Spirit sanctifies, all three are present and working at the same time.

Yes, the Trinity is a mystery. It’s like trying to grasp a ray of sunshine. But at the same time, the word “trinity” is a product of man, concocted to try to understand this part of God’s nature. Before the Church invented the word, the Trinity was alive and well. It is in that sense, a revealed doctrine. How else could man understand it if God Himself hadn’t revealed it to him?

for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16 | TNIV)

 

 

 

 

 

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Does Faith Make Sense?

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What is faith? Do you know? You should, especially if you are a Christian trying to share his faith with another. This is a foundational question you cannot afford to get wrong. In Sunday School, a young boy answer it like this:

Faith is believing in something that isn’t true.

That’s a child’s perspective, yet it’s the same, naïve perspective a lot of adults have. It’s almost impossible to reason with a person who holds that totally subjective opinion of faith because to them, becoming a Christian means a person stops thinking for themselves; that they must now believe other ideas, and blindly accept those ideas without question or doubt. It always surprises people like that when they learn becoming a Christian does not mean turning their brain off.

For those of us who take the Great Commission seriously, we need to take something else seriously, too. It’s not enough for us to know what we believe, we must also know why we believe what we believe. And people today are far more educated, sophisticated, and cynical than they were a generation or two ago. The Christian faith can more than meet anybody’s needs, but before it can do that, it must be accepted in faith, and before that can happen, the Christian faith must be presented to the individual in a way that makes sense to them.

The anti-intellectual approach

Christians often make two huge mistakes as they approach the issue of faith. The first approach is common in pentecostal and fundamentalist churches: the anti-intellectual approach. At this point, it needs to be pointed out that these kinds of churches are not evil or nefarious or populated by dumb people. In fact, they are often more Biblically sound that their mainline denominational counterparts. These kinds of churches were formed as a “push-back” against the undo emphasis on education among the clergy. This was, and still is, a valid concern, and we’ll deal with it later on.

I recall that when I went off to Bible College, some members of my church (from the blue-haired contingent) were concerned that “the Holy Spirit would be educated right out of me.” These old-timers viewed an educated clergy as a spiritually dead one. Sometimes that’s the case, but certainly not always. These precious saints take verses like this one and completely misunderstand them.

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. (Colossians 2:8 NIV)

For them, faith is all about not thinking too hard about what you’re asked to believe; it’s about the heart not the mind. Often this brand of Christianity is non-rational, and very often, irrational. What these folks miss is that an unbeliever deserves a rational, clear presentation of the Gospel in a way they understand. It’s not that logic or rationalism functions as a substitute for faith, it’s that those things are the grounds for faith. When the objective Word of God is made clear people will pay attention to it.  It is, after all, the vehicle of the Holy Spirit, who works through it.

Educated into heaven

The second approach to the Christian faith is the exact opposite to the first one. You often find this approach in the old (usually dying) denominations and it goes like this: teach a child in Sunday School the things they are supposed to believe, quiz them, and if they pass, they become part of the church, which they equate as becoming a Christian.

The fact is, there is an intellectual component to becoming a Christian, but there is also a moral component. Consider:

Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. (John 7:17 NIV)

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. (1 Corinthians 2:14 NIV)

Verses like these – and there are others – make it clear that only a mind that has been enlightened by the Holy Spirit can believe. This being the case, you can’t teach an unbeliever the Christian faith with the end-goal of making them a Christian because it is not possible for their minds to grasp Christian teachings. However, one of the things the Holy Spirit uses is your presentation of the Gospel. The Holy Spirit will work through your words, provided they make sense to the one hearing them. Paul’s advice to young Timothy bears this out:

Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. (1 Timothy 4:2 NIV)

And Peter gave this piece advice:

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Peter 3:15 NIV)

The idea both Paul and Peter set forth is that it is essential for any believer sharing their faith to do so in a careful manner, using carefully considered and chosen words. In other words, using the “slapdash method” of evangelism just won’t work.  The Word of God is no mere collection of stories of fiction or philosophy. It’s literally God’s Word to man, containing thoughts and ideas from His mind, and it should be handled with care and respect. So when you’re sharing your faith and using Scripture, you should take care to choose your words carefully.

The Word is truth

While the unredeemed mind cannot grasp the eternal truths contained in the Word of God, the redeemed mind, aided by the Holy Spirit, can. When we are witnessing to the lost, were not alone. The Holy Spirit is witnessing to them, too. In fact, long before we began sharing our faith with them, the Holy Spirit had His sights set on them. The process of enlightenment may have already begun. So even though they may not be saved, their minds and hearts have been prepared to receive the truths of Scripture.

The Gospel – the Word of God – is the truth; it not only contains it, but it is the revealed truth of God to man. There is no other truth. God’s truth is the most powerful force of nature that exists. Addressing the power of Scripture, God speaking through His prophet Isaiah said:

It [the Word of God] will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11 NIV)

Think about that verse. When God’s Word is presented to the lost in faith, using a presentation that honors it and the person being witnessed to, it must yield the result God wants it to. There’s no way it can’t.

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles. (1 Timothy 2:3 – 7 NIV)

Paul believed it was his divine calling to deliver the Gospel truth to the Gentiles. That was true for him, and it’s true for you, too. If you are a Christian, you have a duty to deliver the truth of the Gospel to the unsaved. And there is only one truth when it comes to God and salvation. God’s Word is powerful, but so is free will. Not everybody who hears the Word will accept it.

But he will terribly punish those who fight against the truth of God and walk in evil ways—God’s anger will be poured out upon them. (Romans 2:8 TLB)

An unsaved person may live a good life, he may be a good neighbor, husband, and citizen, and he may practice his brand of faith sincerely, but unless the faith he is practicing is the faith revealed in Scripture, then he’s sincerely wrong, is pursuing evil, and remains forever lost, his good life notwithstanding.

The truth really is out there

If you get frustrated in your attempts at personal evangelism, you’re in good company. Think about God! He’s gone to incredible lengths to show all men that He really does exist.

Since earliest times men have seen the earth and sky and all God made, and have known of his existence and great eternal power. So they will have no excuse when they stand before God at Judgment Day. (Romans 1:20 TLB)

So why do the unsaved remain unsaved? According to the truth of God’s Word, it’s because they choose to – they choose to rebel against the truth of God revealed to them.

You search the Scriptures, for you believe they give you eternal life. And the Scriptures point to me! Yet you won’t come to me so that I can give you this life eternal! (John 5:39, 40 TLB)

So it’s not that the unsaved can’t believe, it’s that they refuse to. Jesus understood that simple truth; so should you. Yes, it takes faith to sign onto Christianity. But when an unsaved person takes that step of faith, a most remarkable will happen:

If any of you really determines to do God’s will, then you will certainly know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own. (John 7:17 TLB)

Did you catch that? The “doing” will lead to “knowing.” The “moral” decision to follow Jesus will solve any “intellectual” problems a person may have. Any intellectual issues a person may have with Christianity will eventually vanish.

So why don’t really smart people believe?  A lot of people wonder about that. Why don’t highly educated people believe? Actually, many do, but we always hear about brainiacs like Stephen Hawking who do not. As to why so-called geniuses don’t believe, the answer is simple: they don’t want to.  For whatever reason seems good to them, they just don’t want to make the kind of commitment to Christ He demands.

Becoming a Christian – placing your life in God’s hands – is an act of will power, not brain power! Nobody thinks themselves into Heaven! All men choose to believe – they choose to follow Jesus. Let’s go back to Paul:

For the truth about God is known to them instinctively; God has put this knowledge in their hearts. Since earliest times men have seen the earth and sky and all God made, and have known of his existence and great eternal power. So they will have no excuse when they stand before God at Judgment Day.

Yes, they knew about him all right, but they wouldn’t admit it or worship him or even thank him for all his daily care. And after a while they began to think up silly ideas of what God was like and what he wanted them to do. The result was that their foolish minds became dark and confused. Claiming themselves to be wise without God, they became utter fools instead. (Romans 1:19 – 22 TLB)

So, back to eggheads like Stephen Hawking. Are people like him smart? Not according to Scripture:

That man is a fool who says to himself, “There is no God!” Anyone who talks like that is warped and evil and cannot really be a good person at all. (Psalm 14:1 TLB)

So have confidence as you share God’s truth! That lost person you’re talking to is the fool; you aren’t.

Secret things

Christianity does make sense because it’s the truth. There is nothing wrong with honest doubts and questioning. The essence of the Christian faith is that it tells the story of the one who is Truth. Therefore it will always – always – stand up to close examination. Careful study will never harm the Word of God.

In the end, however, we all have to accept another truth. From the unbeliever on the fence, to the believer who has the occasional doubt, to the theologian who thinks he knows it all, we must all accept the fact that some questions a person may have about Christianity will never be answered because God hasn’t revealed everything to us. There are parts of His infinite mind that cannot be understood by creatures with finite minds.

The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29 NIV)

But much of God’s plan – His will – has been revealed to us. We have more than enough information to make a solid case for Christ to the unbeliever. Christianity does make sense. It is a reasonable faith that it goes far, far beyond mere reason, though never against it.

If Christianity is so great, why can’t I talk about it?

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At some point in the life of every Christian, they come to the stark realization that they’re supposed to be telling other people about their Christian faith. But how do they do that? Witnessing, the non-technical word for “personal evangelism,” terrifies many believers. They find out early in their evangelistic efforts that a lot of people aren’t nearly as excited about the Christian faith as they are. The witness, they face rejection, they feel deflated, and they decide to “live their faith” rather than talk about it. Sound familiar?

Fortunately for Christians like us – I say “us” because it’s happened to me, too – there is hope for recovery. We’re not failures. We’re not bad or lazy Christians. Witnessing doesn’t come easy for most of us. It’s really kind of funny when you think about it. We Christians have the cure for death, yet we have trouble sharing that cure with people who are dying. Imagine if you had the cure for cancer how easy it would be to share it!

Confidence

Like most endeavors in life, you need confidence to succeed in witnessing. If you aren’t sure you if you can play hockey, you’ll be falling down all over the ice. If you aren’t sure about what you believe, you’ll be tongue-tied, and even if you manage somehow to get the facts of your faith out, you’ll sound unsure and disingenuous. You need confidence that Christianity is what that person you’re talking to needs the most. You need to know beyond the shadow of any doubt that no matter what that person is going through, what you know is what they need to know; that your faith is what will help them.

But, how do you get that confidence? Where does it come from? Can you learn it? Can you practice enough to “gin it up?” The short answer NO, you can’t learn it; NO you can’t “gin it up.” That confidence is already inside you, all you have to do is tap into it.

While we’re asking questions, how about answering this one: Are you a confident breather? Seriously, do you think about each breath you take before you take it? Do you practice breathing to make sure you get it right? Of course not! You just do it. Sharing your faith should be like breathing. Your faith is simply part of who you are, like your lungs. Your faith – your beliefs – should animate you; they should be behind the way you talk, the way you work, the places you go, and so on. At any moment of any day, your beliefs should be so real to you; so much a part of who you are and what you are doing, that if somebody comes along and asks you about them, the words should just come naturally. This is what Peter was getting at when he wrote this:

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. (1 Peter 3:15 NIV)

Maybe one simple reason why some of you find witnessing so difficult is that there isn’t enough revering go on. Maybe you just don’t think Christ is that big a deal, and therefore it’s not your faith or beliefs that animate you. Something else is. If this is the case, you have a much bigger problem than not being able to share your faith!

All things being equal, however, and if you are a true believer grappling with how to make the “Great Commission” part of your everyday life, reverence for Christ will motivate you to share Him with others. He is a big deal, and what He did when He saved you is a big deal. It’s a big story worth telling. But in order to do that, we need to know what we believe, why we believe it, and we need to be able to communicate it to people in a way that makes sense to them.

Essentially, we need to know why Christianity is so great.

What we think versus what is true

Here’s what a lot American Christians think: Christianity is on the decline; that nobody wants to hear about Jesus and the Bible. Christians think this way for a number of reasons. First, they think Christianity is on the decline because they attend churches that are, on a good Sunday, half full. Or half empty, depending on the church. A lot of these churches are old, with sanctuaries built to seat two or three hundred people, with names on a sign that include: Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran; words that to modern ears mean nothing. And herein lies the problem, which I’ll deal with shortly. While it certainly looks like Christianity is in decline, the facts tell a different story.

The overriding fact is Christianity is on the rise all over the world. Christianity is growing faster than any other religion. Generations ago, Nietzsche famously declared, “God is dead.” Well, today you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody who believes that. In behind the growth of Christianity in places like China, India, and other Eastern countries, is the shocking growth of religion in general. People are very interested in God – or god – and the spiritual life. Even in materialistic America, and to a greater extent the materialistic West, more and more people are searching for spiritual answers to the problems of their lives. Two or three decades ago, secularism was seen as the “new religion,” but today secularism has largely fallen by the wayside as secularists have discovered it holds no answers. Secularism is nihilistic. What people want is some kind of hope; they want a belief system that helps them to make sense of their world. Even the rise of the so-called “new atheism” is marked by faith. Believe it or not, there are “churches” for atheists. What these people have discovered is that faith in something, even in atheism, is better than having no faith at all.

These “searchers” are looking for God – your God – whether they realize it or not. Of course, what they find in their search is more often than not something other than the God of the Bible. They find some wacky new age religion, some “family-friendly” cult, or even Allah, the god of Islam. Islam is growing fast; it’s second behind Christianity in much of the world. What people find so attractive about Islam, a dreadfully false religion, is that its teachings permeate every area of life. This is what people want – they want a faith that speaks to every area of their lives. The challenge before Christians is to tell people why Christianity, not Islam, is the only belief system that truly makes sense.

Another reason why so many of us see Christianity in decline is that we don’t see it anywhere. Think about what’s happening in America today. You’re not allowed to talk about God on government property. Crosses and symbols of Christianity are forbidden – you can’t wear them and you can’t display them because you might offend somebody. When you watch TV, do those TV families you see ever go to church? Fifty years ago, Sheriff Andy Taylor, Aunt Bea, Opie, Helen his girlfriend, and Barney his deputy all went to church together. They were seen singing in the choir and working in and around their church. Rarely, if ever, do you see characters on TV portrayed as sane Christians these days. When Christians are portrayed on TV, they are likely portrayed as wacky cult leaders or fundamentalists who have a stockpile of semi-automatic guns, making plans to shoot up an abortion clinic. Churches, if they are portrayed in a positive light at all, are seen as homeless shelters, food banks, or bingo halls, not as houses of worship where members praise God and fellowship together. Pastors, if they aren’t seen sleeping with secretaries or pilfering the collection box might be seen lobbying the government to clean up a local landfill or heading up a recycling project in their neighborhood. But he’s certainly never seen doing what pastors do: leading people to Christ or shepherding his flock.

These negative and false images take their toll on Christians, who often spend more time in front of the TV being brainwashed than they do reading their Bibles or going to church. We come to believe we are truly in the minority; that there really is no interest in Christ. But that’s not true. That’s a fantasy created by Hollywood and the entertainment world.

This leads us to another reason why it seems as though Christianity is decline. Because Christians are in retreat, they think Christianity is too. Nowadays, serious Christians have all but abandoned the non-Christian world. We have our own theme parks. We have our own TV stations and radio stations. We have our own schools. We associate almost exclusively with other Christians. None of those things are bad, by the way, but it’s very difficult to be “salt and light,” as Jesus said we were to be, when we never venture into the dark world.

In spite of all of the above, there is a resurgence of spiritualism and faith all over the world. If you don’t see it, you’re looking in the wrong places.

Religion versus Faith

So, if there is this resurgence is spiritualism and faith, why aren’t churches full? People have finally figured out what some Christians haven’t – churches are not synonymous with faith. Put another way, people think they can find God and faith without a church. They’re not all together wrong about that. A generation ago it was very common for a Christian to identify himself as a “Presbyterian” or a “Methodist.” Today those religious labels mean nothing. What people really want is the faith component, not the religious. They want God, not religion. That’s why we see without exception mainline denominations dying as the independent, non-denominational churches growing and thriving. Churches are not dying. Denominationalism is.

What that means is that when you go out to share your faith, you’d better share your faith, not your church. Don’t invite people to church, invite people to have faith in Christ. Before you freak out and stop reading, you really do need to get this person you’re witnessing to into your church eventually. But people are more sophisticated than they used to be. They can tell if you’re only interested in adding them to your church roll. They don’t want to just be a number; they want a new life. Only Jesus can give them that, not your church. Your church may be good at teaching people how to live their new life, but they have to have that new life first. So don’t put the cart before the horse. Care about that lost soul first, then care about your church. We Christians should be leading the lost to faith, not to religion.

The time is ripe

Given that people are trending toward the supernatural these days, there has never been a better time to share your faith with them. You as a Christian have the truth, and while there are many, many false religions for people to chose from, and while many lies are being told about the nature of faith and Christianity, the truth is powerful. God’s truth cannot be held back or covered up. It’s a force of nature that cannot be stopped or silenced. All you have to do, as a sincere Christian wanting to share your faith, is tell God’s truth. The lost need to know who Jesus is and what He has done for you.  Be confident. Christianity is winning. The church of Jesus Christ is not dying. Have confidence in your faith.


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