Thursday, August 11, 2011

Notes on the Deficiencies of Youth Part 3 of 4

In this four part series on the deficiencies of being young in the faith and the traps that Satan lays out for us, we have so far examined the first lie which so often besets our youth - the "everything is simple" lie.  The second deception most often follows on the footsteps - the rationalisation that "none of that stuff is important, I don't think about that.. I just try to love Jesus."  It sounds great, but we examined how it's so destructive to the Christian life.  Today we look at a close cousin of the first two lies.

You just need Jesus - that will fix everything

The third of the naive expressions I'll address herein is the "hey, you just need Jesus - that'll fix everything" expression.  For the naive, Jesus only came to save people from hell, feed the hungry, heal the sick and make people happy - their best them now.  For the naive, Jesus came to give everybody a better life by doing away with all the rules and making it simple and all about them.  For the naive, Jesus came to heal everyone - if they just have enough faith; to bless everyone with wealth - if they just claim it; to bless everyone with happy relationships, if they just love each other.  For the naive, it's all about a "personal relationship with Jesus" - a phrase found nowhere in Scripture.  

Persecutions perplex these naive ones, as do afflictions and trials.  The Christians who die every day by being hacked to death for their faith, who die of sickness and disease, who are afflicted with poverty, who are divorced by hateful spouses, who are abandoned by loveless parents, who are unjustly fired by greedy bosses, who are misunderstood, who are condemned, who are ostracized - these Christian are the exception to the rule.  But Jesus himself promises persecutions, afflictions and trials.  Jesus promised that the World will hate us.  Jesus promised that we would be tried as it were by fire.  With the exception of John, every Apostle was martyred.  The one who penned by the Spirit that all things work together for good was shipwrecked  beaten to within an inch of his life, stoned, imprisoned, rejected, ostracized, publicly humiliated and impoverished.  

Scripture clearly teaches that Jesus did not come to make our lives better as we understand it - but to make our lives better in one way - by the killing of sin in our hearts and souls (Matthew 1:21).  However, these naive ones, these little Christians who need patience and instruction and care, these little ones forget that the principal and determinative reason why Jesus came was "sin" - they forget that in the end it’s all about sin because that is what separates us from God.  The simple gospel gives lip service to sin, but does not address sin in the believer’s life.  It’s as though sin were not really important.  The puritan father John Owen famously said "be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.”  Today the simple mock and deride the puritans and live in bondage to sin because sin isn't even their focus; it's not even on their radar.  If they truly have faith that God will take away their sins, they're not evil (they're redeemed) - they're not bad Christians, they're just young and inexperienced and immature.  We, as older mature Christians, should suffer them and love them and instruct them - disciple them towards Godliness.  However, if their faith does not involve a desperate hope that God will indeed remove the sin from their hearts - if instead their hope and faith is that God will make their lives better, heal their marriage, provide wealth and comfort, heal their bodies, and guarantee them a ticket to heaven - then they do not have saving faith.

That is a remarkable statement, I know, these days.  Principally it is remarkable because the gospel has been so distorted by so-called evangelicals.  I could write tomes arguing why they do not have saving faith, but instead I will only point to one example.

When the rich young ruler came to Jesus, he asked one thing - “how do I obtain eternal life?” (Mark 10:17).  Jesus does not invite the young ruler to ask Him into his heart.  Jesus does not invite the rich young man home to supper with him - the beginning of a life-long personal relationship with Christ.  Jesus does not give the young man a sinner’s prayer.  Jesus does none of these things.  Instead, Jesus requires absolute and complete adherence to the Law in every respect.  The rich young ruler should have been devastated!  He should have seen the iniquity in his heart and his own inability to do anything about it.  He should have known how evil he was when no one was looking, that he never for even one moment truly sought after God.  But he didn’t.  He really thought he was doing well.  Jesus had to give him an extreme example to even get his attention.  Only then did the rich young man come to terms with some grief, but it was grief over money not sin.  The rich young man leaves that day without salvation - even though he desperately needed and wanted it - because he didn’t think sin was a big deal.  Million and hundreds of millions of pretend fake Christians in America today desperately need and want salvation and they think they have it because of 4 Spiritual Flaw booklets - but they lack and they die and they perish forever in hell because they do not really think sin is a big deal.  This is the perennial birthmark of the immature.

Even the immature Christian, who knows that sin is a big deal, will be deceived by sin into forgetting how important sin is in their lives and the primacy of killing sin daily in their lives. (Hebrews 3:13)  It is not compassion to these young in the Faith to ignore their irreverence for God’s Holiness and indifference to their own sinfulness.  It is indeed, the most harsh hatred to fail to admonish these youngsters to stop sinning - to kill sin daily - every day - while it is still called today.  Don’t go to bed tonight if you haven’t yet admonished a brother to stop sinning.

This mark of immaturity - this expression of naivete - is akin to the others in that it relies upon a half-truth.  For indeed, Jesus is the answer and He will fix everything - if by everything you mean the sin and hatred for God in your own heart.

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