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Archive for June, 2008

Talk about bad timing.  I could have used this survey as a sermon illustration.  Let me explain: I just preached this weekend on the fact that Truth is under attack, specifically the truth about God, the bible, sin and Jesus.  No surprise there, the Truth has been under attack since the Garden of Eden when the serpent began the war of disinformation.

The gist of my sermon was that the Truth about God is being attacked by those who say there is no God and that we all just got here by accident.  Therefore, the bible is questioned, since if there is no God then the bible is not God’s Word, by definition.  If the bible is not true, then there is no scriptural basis for right or wrong and we have no standard as Christians to base our faith.

And finally, that means that the truth about Jesus is under attack.  The truth about Jesus, according to the bible, is that he is the Son of God, the one and only way to be saved.  You can believe this or not, but it’s what the New Testament teaches.  We’ve seen that truth being attacked more and more, not only from unbelievers, but from those who claim to be Christians yet are so gracious as to assert that he is not the only way to the Father.  A lot of the guys who are “big names” in the Christian world today are not willing to claim that Jesus is the only way to be saved, yet they are speaking at our conferences and are best-sellers in Christian bookstores.

Some people call this “tolerance”.  No, tolerance is respecting other people and not persecuting them for their beliefs.  But it’s not intolerant to assert that what the bible says about Jesus in John 14:6 is true.

Now this survey comes out, as reported on the Fox News website.  The results are astonishing.  57% of evangelicals believe that other religions can lead to eternal life. Evangelical Christians.  That’s astonishing because that goes against basic evangelical doctrine.  83% of mainline Protestants believe that, which doesn’t surprise me, but 57% of evangelicals does.  59% of black Protestants responding and 79% of Catholics also believe that other religions can lead to eternal life.

Should we in the evangelical church be alarmed when even folks who are in the evangelical church believe this?  I should think so… it should make us look a little more carefully at what we’re preaching and who we’re reading.  I’m not a big fan of the tactics that the discernment ministries use, but this survey kind of makes you wonder if their cries about the erosion of the Christian faith in the evangelical world are not on target, even if their methods are a bit grating.  57% of evangelicals think that Jesus is not the only way to be saved– doesn’t take a lot of discernment to see that this is a problem.

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I had the joy of experiencing what the church is really all about these last few weeks. I’ve spent a lot of time in the hospital visiting sick folks in my role as a minister—to the point that I actually like hospital food. But, thank God, I’ve been healthy for my adult life and have never had to stay in the hospital myself. So, it was a new experience to be in the hospital with my wife for part of three days and have church folks drop by and visit. We got to see for ourselves how nice it is to have people come by just to let you know that they were thinking about you. Then when we came home the love from the church family continued with people dropping in at home, sending cards, calling, and best of all—bringing food by for a weary mom and dad (there’s a reason why people have kids when they are much younger than we are!). I thought that it was very ironic that one family who brought us food was the very family who we had taken food to a few weeks ago when they were sick: the circle of blessing was complete.

All of this got me thinking about the church at its best: we not only share in the worship of God but in the event of our lives—good and bad. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 speaks of this: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” We are called upon as a church to take the comfort and healing which we receive from God and comfort others who are troubled. If you are going through something there is probably somebody in the church who has already been through that who can help you. If you have been through something, the time will come when you will be able to help someone else. When you are sick there will be someone there to visit you and bring a nice pot of chicken and dumplings—when you are well, there will be someone to take a meal to. That’s the church at its best.

I really feel bad for people who don’t have a church family to share the joys and sorrows of life with.  It’s sad when a couple is searching for a building to get married in because they have no church family, or even worse, when they are buried and there is nobody to mourn with and minister to the family.  Sure, church families can be a pain at times, just like biological families, but for the most part they are literally the body of Christ, sharing in the compassion that they have received from God.

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