Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Refusal to Shun the World - John MacArthur

Part of an essay by Dr.John MacArthur called " The Rise of Reckless Faith"

"We have already hinted at another factor contributing to the decline of discernment in the contemporary church. It is a preoccupation with image and influence. Many Christians have the misconception that to win the world to Christ we must first win the world's favor. If we can get the world to like us, they will embrace our Savior. That is the philosophy behind the user-friendly church movement, which I have evaluated in an earlier book.11

The express design of this user-friendly philosophy is to make unconverted sinners feel comfortable with the Christian message. People won't come to hear the Gospel proclaimed? Give them something they want. Put on a show. Entertain them. Avoid sensitive subjects like sin and damnation. Accommodate their worldly desires and felt needs. Slip in the Gospel in small, diluted doses. The whole point is to make the church a place where non-Christians can enjoy themselves. The strategy is to tantalize non-Christians rather than confront their unbelief. That is altogether incompatible with sound doctrine. It is compromise with the world. James called it spiritual adultery (James 4:4).

Look at the effect of this philosophy on the church. In order to entice sinners, preaching has been replaced with entertainment. The preacher who once took his stand for truth and made the biblical message clear is now asked to take his seat. He's a problem. He's an embarrassment. He's an offense to non-Christians.

But if the truth cannot be fearlessly proclaimed in the church, what place is there for truth at all? How can we build a generation of discerning Christians if we are terror-struck at the thought that non- Christians might not like hearing the unvarnished truth?

And since when has it been legitimate for the church to woo the world? Didn't the apostle John write, "Do not marvel, brethren, if the world hates you" (1 John 3:13)? And did not Jesus say, "The world ... hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil" (John 7:7)? Biblical Christians have always understood that they must shun the world. Here are our Lord's own words:

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose vou out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, "A slave is not greater than his master." If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute vou; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me (John 15:18-21).
Does that sound like it gives any latitude for an evangelistic strategy that soft-pedals the offense of the cross?

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