I fear that this may be a clear and present danger into which certain denominations are falling headlong if they do not deal with the lust that preachers and churches have in coddling the culture and spirit of the age instead of exposing it’s evil and offering Christ as the remedy for sin.
Why are some ministries and churches working so hard to be like Jezebel who painted her face to impress the world that does not know or love Christ (2 Kings 9:30)? If Jesus Christ is not relevant in and of himself, dear friends, you can be sure that is not a gospel message you are hearing. Christ is alive now! He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13: 8) . That is genuine relevancy and a no frills, plain vanilla gospel.
During the 1960 Olympics (held strangely enough in Rome, Italy) the Saturday Evening Post featured a cartoon showing a runner carrying a message of victory. He came stumbling and gasping into the palace and fell prostrate before the King. He had a puzzled look on his face and he mumbled, “I’ve forgotten the message!” All that effort and he forgot the message!
We are making much effort but it is becoming evident that we have forgotten the message. The reformation reminded Rome many years before the forgotten message of justification by grace alone through faith alone through Christ alone. God forbid that the church with all its resources and opportunities forget the message of the gospel! What is that message?
Jesus Christ is the real message of the Bible.
He is the Word of God speaking to man (John 1:1). Not just an idea, a concept, a philosophy, a way of living or a religion. He is God’s Word personified. God in these last days has spoken to us in final and full revelation in his Son (Heb. 1:1-2). Patriarchs and prophets spoke for God in the Old Testament piecing together symbols and types but God has spoken clearly for himself in his only beloved and begotten Son Jesus Christ.
Paul says that “the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things…” (Heb. 10:1). Christ was hidden in the Old Testament’s pages and was revealed in the New Testament. As I first learned it,
“The New in the Old concealed, the Old in the New revealed.”
Jesus insisted that he was the true message of scripture with those that seemed to revere scripture but he knew did not love him (John 5:42)! “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.“ (John 5:39-40). Imagine possessing such a reverence for scripture as they examined, studied and memorized it with admirable enthusiasm! They should be commended and imitated as far as that goes. Yet somehow the Word was not in them and the result was that they marginalized the message of the Bible by their traditions (Mk. 7:13) and they had no love for the Author in their hearts. That terrifies me! It causes me to examine my heart and pray with Augustine, “Grant what thou commandest and then command what thou wilt!”
We should also realize that Christ is the subject of his own teaching. He says, “learn of me.” (Mt 11:29). The apostle referred to this when he talked about how they learned Christ (Eph. 4:20). He says, “Let me teach you about me.” How does Christ teach us about himself today? He does it by those things, “written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures.” (Luke 24:44-45). The whole purpose of the Bible is to lead people to Christ!
“Christ is the end of the law.” (Rom 10:4) meaning Christ is the goal and fulfillment of the scriptures. God had him in view when he gave his law. The law was put in charge of us to bring us to Christ. “The law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good.” (Rom. 7:12) and it tutored us about the nature and attributes of God and his perfect law which we see in his Son Jesus (Gal. 3:24). We have a dire need to know all the doctrines of the Bible and a working knowledge of scripture, but has it lead us to Jesus? Is what we are learning leading us to praying? Does our theology birth and nurture affection and desire for communion with Christ? Is the knowledge we have producing a growing love for Christ? Or is it all and end in itself? Ah, it is Christ that fulfills the righteousness of the law in us (Rom 8:3) by his saving grace and pours the love of God in our hearts (Rom 5:5). Obedience for us is not forced or coerced but willing. That desire to commune and obey is refreshed and cultivated by the scriptures true message, its wonderful theme, Jesus.
There are so many that take the truths of scripture and teach it like a science class. Then you have others who make micro-wave meals and junk food. This is not serving manna from heaven. When scripture is read, studied and preached with understanding the Holy Spirit lights up the scripture with Christ. This is not about commercialized religion where they try to sell you what you already own. It is not about a sterile religion clinically tested by egg heads in religious laboratories. It is about God speaking to men and women by the Lord Jesus Christ! You do not need man’s keys, principles, steps formulas or methods. The way has been made open into the holiest place, where Christ stands in the presence of God for us, speaking to us through the both the Older and Newer Covenants. When we read and ponder the truth of scripture, God’s voice speaks to us through those writings and they all cry out, “This is my beloved son, hear him!” (Luke 9:35).