That was the question Greg Laurie asked last night at the Costa Mesa Pastors Conference.
Earlier in the day, Franklin Graham rallied the troops in my states capitol, railing against liberals and giving poorly concealed endorsement to the political right.
They prayed for revival too.
Can we have revival in our time?
If it’s going to look like what they described, I sure as hell hope not.
First off, let’s stop the fear mongering about this being “America’s last chance”.
Just stop it.
We live in a culture that makes us uncomfortable and we’re not used to being uncomfortable, nor are we used to living in a culture where we couldn’t make people that made us uncomfortable more uncomfortable than we are for doing so.
Conservatives are really uncomfortable because the country has liberal cultural tendencies and they have only been guests in the White House for the last eight years.
This doesn’t describe American Armageddon.
There is this unspoken assumption that if God sent revival, not only would the heathen convert to Christ, but they would become good Republicans as well.
Then, of course, God would call off His judgment and righteousness would fill the land.
This country has problems.
It always has and always will.
People are often immoral.
They have always been and always will be.
God has been on the throne through it all.
Always will be.
The other factor in this call for “revival” is a call to moralism, which is nothing more than legalism and law… which is the enemy of grace.
Oddly enough, the last revival Laurie spoke of was spearheaded by Lonnie Frisbee, who was as gay as a spring morning.
This calls into question whether a revival is a return to moralism or an explosion of grace that God gives sovereignly and in the season of His choice alone.
Grace is for sinners…if He comes in revival it will be for those we despise.
I believe there will be no such thing as revival as long as we continue to whore out the Gospel of Jesus Christ, pimping it with politics and covering the shame with the flag.
The Gospel is the Gospel of King Jesus, not any politician,nor any political party.
It is about the kingdom of the King, not any earthly power.
It is His pristine power in salvation, untainted by the agendas of mere men.
If it is mixed with anything else, the Gospel becomes false and full of lies.
It is for right, left, center, and undecided, for natives and immigrants, for male and female and for those who are unsure of either.
Real revival always starts among those the religious have left behind…
I’m all for one of those…
I’m even more for cutting the drama, cleaning our own house, and living out who God has made us to be as we love our neighbors and proclaim the undefiled Gospel of King Jesus.
“Christ not only died for all; he died for each.” – Billy Graham
The vast majority of us are not called to be full time evangelists. Yet, God calls each of us to various vocations, which change with the seasons of life, such as child, parent, grandparent, spouse, student, worker, employer, and citizen. In these vocations, we will have opportunities (or as parents, the responsibility) to share the Gospel with family, friends and neighbors.
(1) How do you understand the Gospel?
(2) If you had a half hour to share the Gospel with your neighbor over a cup of coffee, how would you describe Christianity and, more specifically, the Christian Gospel to your neighbor?
What follows are my thoughts on these questions. I would love to receive your thoughts in comments.
“Gospel” can be defined as a loving, kind, gracious message, fitted to gladden and cheer the heart.
In Paul’s letter to Titus, Paul provided Titus with a succinct summary of Christianity and the Christian Gospel:
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.” (Titus 2:11-15 ESV)
In keeping with Paul’s instruction to declare these things, I would like to put forward this short text as an excellent outline for understanding and teaching the Gospel and basic Christianity. Due to space constraints, I will only highlight the major elements of this text.
The grace of God” appears in two ways. The grace of God first appeared in the person of Jesus (in his incarnation, life, suffering and death, and resurrection) who gave himself for us to redeem us…. Jesus brought God’s grace into a wicked and lawless world. Today, the grace of God continues to appear (or is revealed) to each one of us by His means of grace: through the ministry of God’s Word and Sacraments. For example: “And [Jesus] said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.’” (Mark 16:15-16)
The grace of God is a gift; it is His unmerited favor towards people because of the redemption (i.e., ransom) paid by our Savior Jesus Christ who suffered and died for our sins. A gift must be received; by definition it cannot be earned or forced upon a recipient. The grace of God is received by faith in our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
The grace of God brings salvation for all people. God desires that none should perish, but that all people would be saved (see 1 Tim 2:4; 2 Pet 3:9). At the same time, however, this Gospel also teaches that without God’s grace, people are ungodly and under lawlessness. Therefore, the Gospel teaches neither universalism nor any path to salvation other than through the grace of God in Jesus our Redeemer.
In order to bring salvation to a person, the grace of God through means must convert (or repent) the ungodly. Since Jesus gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness, the ungodly is a prisoner of sin and the devil who, therefore, is unable to redeem himself. This Gospel leaves no room for the free will or synergism of the ungodly.
The Holy Spirit’s work of conversion (or repentance) is implied quite clearly in verse 12: training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age. In order to renounce something, one first must confess that he suffers the condition, which here is ungodliness and worldly passions (i.e., sin). This is the first work of the Holy Spirit: “when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin” (John 16:8). The second work of the Holy Spirit is to create faith in the saving work of Jesus through His means of grace: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Rom 10:17) It is the Holy Spirit who turns a person around from the darkness of ungodliness to the light of Christ, kindling faith and the desire to live a self-controlled, upright and godly life. The Holy Spirit’s work of repentance in the life of the Christian, by the grace of God through means, is ongoing. Paul here uses the word “training”, but the sense of the word also includes “teaching” and “leading.”
To renounce ungodliness and worldly passions is a serious matter. It can place the Christian outside of social circles, create enemies, carry financial penalties, and in some countries could mean prison or even martyrdom. “To live right in this present world, mark you, is like living soberly in a saloon, chastely in a brothel, godly in a gaiety hall, uprightly in a den of murderers” (Martin Luther).
in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
The present age, this age of ungodliness and lawlessness, is only temporary.
Those who have received this grace of God have a blessed hope at the appearing of the glory of Jesus. Our hope is in the resurrection of the body and eternal life. When Jesus returns, it will be in glory, not like his first coming, which was in humility. When Jesus comes in glory, He will judge the living and the dead. All ungodliness and lawlessness will be judged and banished from the glorious kingdom that Jesus will bring in its fullness upon His return. Faith and hope will vanish, and only love will remain when we meet our Lord face to face.
Jesus gave himself to redeem us. The work of redemption is on His shoulders, not ours. The devil and the world will tempt, accuse and attack, but will have no dominion over His redeemed.
Jesus, through means of grace, sends the Holy Spirit who will purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. This also is God’s work. “[F]or it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil 2:13)
In conclusion, Titus 2:11-14 does a great job of hitting the basic elements of Christianity and the Gospel. In order to bring the Trinity into better focus, the Apostle’s Creed, which distinguishes the Triune God into three distinct articles, also could be used alongside this text as a teaching or evangelistic tool.
May we joyfully and confidently declare the grace of God for the world. And, may we continue to receive the grace of God, which He continually offers each one of us, as he purifies for himself a people who are zealous for good works. Amen.
Sometimes it sucks to be in the middle. I only have one sibling and so it never could have been the case in my household growing up, but you often hear the stories of the “forgotten” middle child. Middle management is often stuck between the gripes of their employees and the demands to carry out initiatives by top management.
Middle school can be the most awkward of times as one transitions from the simplicity and innocence of their elementary years into the complexity and travails of being a teenager and all that business called puberty.
When it comes to religion and politics, it seems much easier to join one side or the other. It’s much simpler to identify who your group is and conversely, who the “enemy” is. Life can seemingly go much smoother when you are safely entrenched with your family group and you know for the most part that everyone is going to think and act the same way.
But sometimes when you are with a family for a while, you start to notice some things that just don’t seem quite right. Maybe not the core ideals that attracted you to the group in the first place, but some of the other stuff. Matters that should be more peripheral and not nearly as important but are treated like they are essential, or all but. Issues that the more you look at them, the more you realize that we aren’t thinking or acting right. Things that appear to be unhealthy excesses and extremes. Maybe even some items at which you think the “enemy” is doing a better job.
And so you say something. But it doesn’t go over too well with the family. Because that is not how you do things in the family. You are to stay loyal and united and questioning the way things are done is definitely not appropriate.
And so that leaves you stuck in the middle. The “other side” still doesn’t like you much because you’re still part of the enemy and you will still question or speak out against some of their sacred cows. Therefore, you are still hated and continue to be identified with all the worst of your family group. And now your own side isn’t very fond of you either for not falling in line and being a good soldier.
I have shocked church friends and family members with comments I have made on theological subjects. Remarks I have made showing that I may not be fully on board and question some elements. No, not words questioning items like the reliability of the Bible or the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice. But rather comments showing that I may not be fully convinced of the pre-trib, pre-mill position and that I am open to the possibility of other eschatological positions. Or remarks like I think there are true believers who are Catholic or Orthodox. And of course one that we have covered here before, that I think it’s okay for Christians to drink, even for pastors to do so.
I have angered and frustrated friends and family members that I am not on board with Donald Trump now that he is the presumptive Republican nominee. Because, I am told, we must now band together and the most important thing is defeating the enemy. And besides, many of our Christian leaders are now getting to know Trump and telling us he’s really not that bad and there’s actually lots of good things about the man. Wait, what is that, I hear? You dare question our Christian leaders?
I’m sure I could offend many more people many more times, but I often keep many of my thoughts to myself. I express myself better in writing than I do in spontaneous verbal conversation and so this blog and Facebook have given me avenues to express my thoughts more so than I have before. But even at that, there are many circumstances where I keep my mouth closed or limit what I have to say. Yet the things I have managed to say over the years have pushed me more and more into the abyss of the “middle”.
I still identify with my families. But for some in my families, I am the ugly red-headed step child. (No offense to red heads, just using a common expression to make a point.) I am the one who is too “open” to all those other dangerous ways and thought systems. I am the who is angrily accused of playing the devil’s advocate, because darn it, we know that we’re right and you shouldn’t be challenging us like that. And I’m not even very talkative or confrontational by nature. What it must be like for those who are so.
Part of the problem is certainly with me for not always communicating in the clearest or most understanding fashion. But part of the problem is also a perceived disloyalty for questioning those within the family or the way things are supposed to be done within the family. And yet another part of the problem may be a blindness of family members from being able to see the bigger picture and faults within, because if this is the way we do it and our leaders advocate for it, then it invariably must be right. To quote from a recent Russell Moore article, “Forgetting who we are and forgetting our mission can leave us particularly vulnerable to false teaching that doesn’t sound false because it comes from “our side.”
I try to follow my conscience and speak for what I believe to be right and that sometimes gets me stuck in the middle. And you know what? I’m probably wrong on some issues and the righteousness actually lays more on one side or the other. But if I think the truth of an issue lays more towards the middle or even the other side I am going to try to stick with what I believe to be right.
In our increasingly divided and vociferous culture (including the church) that cries for battle, being in the middle is often like being an enemy…. to both sides. I know there are others who get stuck in the middle with me. Let’s hang in there as we absorb the blows.
May God give us the wisdom and strength to do and say what is right.
1.I was awakened this morning, not by the alarm clock or the sound of birds singing, but of the cat vomiting on me. These thoughts may reflect that lovely dawn…
2.Imagine my surprise and delight at finding out that a quarter of my Facebook friends were experts on Britain and the European Union…
3.The first time I read anything about the Brexit vote was the day they voted. Watching the vote come in, my only lucid thought was that the prophecy wonks would run amuck with this. They did not let me down…
4.The chapter in the Bible that speaks of the European Union is right after the one on the United States and precedes the one on the importance of the left hand when playing boogie-woogie piano.
5.Someone needs to tell Mike that nobody takes the paper anymore…if the Rapture happens he won’t know about it until the next morning.
6.James Dobson reports that Donald Trump has been born again. I’m not clever enough to make this stuff up…
7.If globalism and the New World Order have to happen before the return of Christ wouldn’t we be happy to see these things happening? I thought we wanted Him to come back…
8.Many of the same people who believe that Trump has been converted are the same people who have condemned most of the rest of the church to the pit. Ironic…
9.God help the damn fool who would claim conversion for Hilary based on the same amount of evidence. She would be accused of pandering for political gain…
“Well, are will still united?”, he asked rhetorically.
There was a smattering of yeas from a crowd that knows damn well that “unity” exists in brand name only.
Many of those attending the gathering in Philly were from the West Coast and their presence was actually a vote on the referendum choosing between the Philly traditionalists and the Costa Mesa “progressives”.
This used to be the annual Calvary Chapel Senior Pastors Conference, but has been demoted in status to accommodate the angst of those who feel that in some form or fashion Brian Brodersen has betrayed the legacy of the late Chuck Smith.
Attendance numbers for this gathering will be of interest…some who wouldn’t have missed this gathering in the past chose to go to the Philadelphia conference instead, as noted previously.
Another group is boycotting the event because Skip Heitzig is a speaker.
There are those who believe Heitzig should be held accountable for his part in the Gospel For Asia scandal and who recognize that according to current dogma, Heitzig is one of the “leaders” of the “movement” by way of his place on the Calvary Chapel Association board.
Those who have expressed this desire for accountability have been alternately ignored or scorned as being “divisive”.
How ironic is it that after all these years of telling people abused in CC churches to “vote with their feet”, that those pastors who want to hold their leadership accountable are now offered that as the only alternative to being silenced.
There is no mechanism in place whatsoever to hold these self appointed leaders accountable.
The truth is that there is no accountability for any leader in the “movement’, that the whole narrative of the birth and purpose of the CCA is built on lies, and any proclamations of “unity” in the group are lies as well.
My guess is that they will be more careful with the Q & A next week…
I would ask you to keep this in your prayers as an incredible amount of time and money have been spent to bury this case and cover up the evil that has been done. The American press won’t touch it and the Philippine justice system is reminiscent of Mexico…