Monday, September 15, 2014

No Putrid Message, Please

Kerry and Chris Shook's Be The Message updates the old cliche, "Preach the Gospel--if necessary, use words." Let's talk about that idea from a Biblical perspective. I'll refer to several Scriptures, so please click the links; quoting so many of them directly in one blog post might put me in danger of violating the ESV copyright permission. But we need to examine the Shooks' premise in light of what the Word of God teaches.

I agree that a person's behavior, in general,  demonstrates his true beliefs.  James 2:14-26 indeed maintains that  "faith without works is dead." Jesus Himself warned that He will reject those who call Him Lord while actively disobeying His commandments (Matthew 7:21-27). The Shooks must be commended, therefore, for their desire to address the obvious disconnect between what evangelicals profess to believe and how we actually live. The non-Christian world sees our hypocrisy, and uses it as an excuse to reject Christ.

That said, our good behavior, in and of itself, can only (at best) lead people to ask us about the Lord (1 Peter 3:15). Of course, we should remember the broader context of this verse. 1 Peter 3:8-22 offers guidelines to Christians in the midst of suffering for their commitment to  Christ. The First Century believers to whom Peter originally wrote amazed their critics by clinging to Jesus when simply renouncing Him would have liberated them from persecution. They did far more than live good lives. They proclaimed Christ in an empire that made such proclamations punishable by death.

Their potential martyrdom went far beyond "right living." Good behavior certainly reflects God's standards for personal holiness, but without accompanying words about the grace of God that transforms a sinner, such good behavior degenerates into self-righteous morality that the Lord considers putrid (see Isaiah 64:6).

Rather than "being the message" by presuming that our actions will magically attract people to the Gospel, let's actually open our mouths and tell people the Gospel. The Word of God, not our morality, has the power to kindle saving faith!
14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. ~~Romans 10:14-17 (ESV)

1 comment:

  1. The Word of God, not our morality, has the power to kindle saving faith!

    Amen! Anything of this world which we still are tainted by, can at best be only a shadow of what is to come...I know that is taking liberty with that verse because it had to do with the OT feasts foreshadowing what was to come in Jesus the Messiah.

    How can we think that we can transform others with the powers we try to conjure up within ourselves? And if it is Jesus who does the doing through us, where is our boasting in doing anything by our own efforts?

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post! I'd love feedback, as long as you attach a name. Disagreement is fine, as long as it is presented respectfully. Please keep comments confined to a maximum of four short paragraphs. Sorry for making to do the Word Verification, but I've been getting too much spam.

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