A Familiar Refrain and A Stark Reminder

On December 7, 2014 I preached a message entitled, “Do you really trust the Bible?”[1]  This message was part of a series of presentations, which I planned and delivered on the first Sunday of each month during my time as pastor of FBC Diana in 2014, that were designed to provide a Christian (and more particularly a biblical) response to some contemporary cultural issues.  While some might imagine that the Bible is hardly a contemporary cultural concern, a Newsweek article made it clear that there are at least some in our contemporary culture who still find it necessary to launch assaults upon the Holy Scriptures.

I am not claiming divine or prophetic inspiration for my message, but this Newsweek article was exactly the kind of thing I anticipated while preparing my December 7 message. My forethought was merely based upon the fact that Christmas and Easter seem to offer strategic calendar dates for the release of anti-Christian articles, movies, and TV shows. Notice that both of the recent Hollywood attempts to undermine the biblical narrative (Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings) were released during the Easter and Christmas seasons respectively.[2]

As a quintessential spectacle of this kind of calculated and timely publication, author Kurt Eichenwald wrote the following in his Newsweek article (dated December 23, 2014 on their website).

“They are God’s frauds, cafeteria Christians who pick and choose which Bible verses they heed with less care than they exercise in selecting side orders for lunch. They are joined by religious rationalizers—fundamentalists who, unable to find Scripture supporting their biases and beliefs, twist phrases and modify translations to prove they are honoring the Bible’s words.” [3]

Leaving subtle sarcasm and prudent pejoratives behind, the author of this article demonstrates a clear and open hostility towards conservative evangelical Christianity and the ancient text upon which their convictions are founded. His article is formed by tired and perennially reproduced arguments as well as inconsistent personal attacks against a wide range of professing Christians. For a thoughtful and well-articulated response to the Newsweek article, see Albert Mohler’s article at his website, www.albertmohler.com.[4]

As the Christmas season of 2014 fades out of our rearview mirrors and the new year ahead comes more fully into view, let me challenge all Christians everywhere to acknowledge the reality that Christians live in a world hostile to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is not new, nor is it something especially demonstrated by my contemporary American culture. In fact, one may be surprised to learn that there have been at least some cultures that stood in direct and open opposition to Christianity with much greater tenacity and passion than my own.

Contemporary American Christians, however, have seemingly become oblivious to this reality – namely that sinful creation is hostile to God, Christ, the Gospel, and all things genuinely Christian. Humanity lives in a world cursed by sin, and the mass of humanity is sinful to the core. Christian, let us start this new year with a sober understanding of who we are and where we are.

Christians are those sinners upon whom God has graciously lavished His mercy. God has saved a portion of humanity from out of the mass of sinful rebels, and He has called them holy and righteous. These sinners, saved by God’s grace, are not holy or righteous because of anything in themselves; no, they are only thus because they have been given the righteousness of Christ. Because God has called Christians holy, He therefore expects them to live humbly and obediently before Him. Out of a heart of gratitude for saving grace will flow a tremendous desire to love and obey the Lord and Redeemer who provided such a thing.

Christians living within our contemporary culture are located inside of a system and a people who are antithetical to a biblical worldview. While many Christians live and think within a worldview framework that closely resembles the world around them, this is not as it should be. The more secular and openly antagonistic the outside world becomes, the more nominal Christianity will be exposed for what it really is and genuine Christians will be forced to live and think counter-culturally. Living and thinking counter-culturally is a natural effect of life under a heavenly King, and it is about time that more Christians announce their allegiance with resilient clarity.

May God grant us grace and strength to be the kind of Christians that Jesus talked about when He said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

[1] Listen to this sermon at www.fbcdiana.org/sunday-sermons/ Look for title: “Do you really trust the Bible?”

[2] Noah was released on March 28, 2014 (3 weeks before Easter Sunday) and Exodus: Gods and Kings was released on December 12, 2014 (2 weeks before Christmas day).

[3] See full article on Newsweek.com (http://www.newsweek.com/2015/01/02/thats-not-what-bible-says-294018.html)

[4]Albert Mohler’s response to the Newsweek article can be found here: http://www.albertmohler.com/2014/12/29/newsweek-on-the-bible-so-misrepresented-its-a-sin/?utm_source=e-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Scene%40Southern