Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Kirk Cameron's Message to Pastors at the SBC Annual Meeting

Yes, it's important to proclaim the gospel each Sunday to both believers and unbelievers:

Can I speak to you from my heart for a moment? I realize that, theologically, I’m not worthy to wash your socks. But imagine this scenario with me, if you will: Imagine I’m a “seeker”- I’m a non-Christian, sitting in your church week after week after week listening to you. Am I ever going to hear the message that will save my soul from Hell? Will you ever tell me the truth clearly enough so that I realize that my sin has made me an enemy of God: that I am currently on the path that leads to destruction, with the wrath of God dwelling upon me, and that unless I repent and put my faith in the Savior, I will perish? Or have you decided that it’s better to simply entertain me, and on Sundays I can come to have my “felt needs” met with good music and good advice? Pastor, while I would appreciate that, it’s the ultimate betrayal of my trust in you if you don’t tell me the truth. Will I ever hear the words “repent,” “surrender,” “turn to the Savior,” “be born again”? If you don’t tell me those things, how will I ever know to do it?Please don’t leave it up to the Wednesday night small-group leader. They’re taking their cues from you. You’re leading the flock.

And now I speak to you as a Christian. If you and I fail to teach the whole counsel of God, and we don’t warn sinners to flee from the wrath to come, and run to the love of Christ on the Cross to save their soul, we make a terrible mistake. It doesn’t matter how happy a person is- how much a sinner is enjoying the pleasures of sin for a season- without the righteousness of Christ, he’ll perish on the Day of Judgment. The Bible says, “Riches profit not on the Day of Wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.” You see, that’s how Kirk Cameron realized he needed a Savior. I had riches, but I knew that it was the righteousness of God that I needed in order to be saved from my sin.
Unfortunately, we've shrunk the gospel to the point that it's just about the individual sinner's need for salvation but the gospel message should go beyond the individual nature of our salvation (obviously, it's an important element) to include the corporate nature of salvation as well. Christ died, not just for you but for the church:
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
This aspect of our salvation has been ignored to the point where the message of the gospel is what Christ did on the cross for me. This individualistic focus leads to self-help Christianity (sanctification in 5 easy steps), prosperity gospel (God not only saves you but wants to bless you as well) and people looking for entertainment (what? you don't have a gym and a fitness ministry?).

It also ignores the covenantal aspect of our salvation, that Christ did not come just to save the individual but his people:
Matthew 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."
That it was to fulfill the promise made to Abraham:
Galatians 3:7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, "In you shall all the nations be blessed."
And the promise he made to the prophets:
Hebrews 8:6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. 8 For he finds fault with them when he says: "Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. 10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more." 13 In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
Luke 24:25 And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

1 Corinthians 15:3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures
Sadly, many pastors focus on moralistic messages that ignore the content of the gospel which is proclaimed in both the Old and New Testaments. Pastors do their congregations a disservice when they ignore the promises made to Israel in the Old Testament that God has fulfilled in Christ.
Corinthians 1:20 For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
Focusing on one aspect of salvation (the individual's salvation) impoverishes the church and makes it ripe for all kinds of error.

BTW, it's also important to proclaim the gospel for the growth (in maturity) of the church, reminding us each week that we aren't working for our salvation or because we think God would be mad at us (Romans 8:1) but because we are dead to sin and alive to righteousness (Romans 6).

(link sort of via James White -- who doesn't actually link to the post)

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