By Allan McQuarrie
Have you ever wondered way there are so many people in the churches today who seem to defy the definition of what a Christian should be? Why there are so many critical people who never seem to be experiencing the joy of the Lord either in their life or in their daily conduct, or why gossip and back-stabbing seem more prevalent in the church than in the community as a whole?
So many people have been turned off from church because of such individuals. The question often comes back to " do you think they are genuinely saved?". Well, often I doubt they are, but they think they are, and the pastor and congregation treats them like they are, so we write it off as immature believers.
However, I feel it is much worse. Our churches are filling up with such people, and will continue to do so due to the fact that we are preaching a powerless gospel message.
The corporate mentality of "bigger is better" and "a full church is a blessed church", and of course "a wealthy congregation is a God-honouring congregation", has so perverted the truth of the Bible that we are driven to create a message of the gospel that is useless and only produces people who think they are saved, and over the years neither mature or change from the way they acted and thought before their "conversion".
The movement to big and successful churches which so many pastors and congregations are striving for, is forcing the attitude of complacency towards sin forward, and the message of repentance into the realm of cold and unloving.
Such a watered down message of "asking Jesus into your heart" or "come forward to show your commitment to Christ", or as I heard one person say, "just say 'please' to God", is totally unbiblical and contrary to the message of Jesus. This has created, and will continue to create a group of people who "made a decision" yet are not regenerated.
The message of the Bible is clear and undeniable. It may be offensive and painful to hear; and it does convict and cause people to feel uncomfortable. It calls us sinners in the eyes of a Holy God, and demands that we repent.
We have lost the message because we have lost the Holiness of God in our pulpits. We have focused on accepting people the way they are, rather than tell them that we don't measure up in God 's eyes. We want full pews more than the full message. We want to be liked by people, more than Christ was liked Himself.
Look at the Scripture. "Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15); "They went out and preached that people should repent." (Mark 6:12); "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins" (Acts 2:28); Repent, then, and turn to God, so your sins may be wiped out." (Acts 3:19); "In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to Repent." (Acts 17:30). The Scripture speaks for itself. The clear message of personal repentance is the only message that will produce true salvation. This message seems harsh, and demands much from people; in fact it might even drive people away from our churches. So be it. An evangelical church that seeks to be politically correct will only find itself in the midst of quarrel, fighting and motives that are not pure. God, however, will bless the people who preach the truth. He will honour His word. He will bring joy to those who exalt His name.
Our job is simple - make sure that when we share the gospel, even to children, they understand repentance. Make sure every presentation of the gospel from the pulpit includes the message of repentance. And finally, make sure that those who are considered to be Christians, including those of us who take on positions of spiritual leadership, have done more than asked Jesus into our hearts, but rather that we have truly repented of our sins before a Holy God and have pleaded the blood of Christ to cleanse us.