1999-06-14 - The Real Stumbling Block
How to Stumble Over the "Real" Stumbling Block
Romans 10:9,10 "that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved..." (see also Titus 3:5-7)
There is a popular trend in many churches today and it is disturbing. There is a lot of talk about God. Now that might seem like a good thing and in one respect, it is. But this talk of God is done to avoid talking about Christ. God cares for you, God loves you, God hears you when you pray. God is the benevolent God who we can understand and who understands us. In many ways these are all true statements. They are also all statements a Deist agrees with.
The problem with these statements, when they are left to themselves, is that they lack any christocentricity. Christ is missing. And without Christ, our faith is in vain, our hope is unfounded. (1 Corinthians 15:12-14) Christ is the center of our faith and when we simply say, "God loves you," we have spoken an empty assurance.
The truth is that God loves us because he sees us through His Son Jesus Christ. Left to ourselves we are sinful and polluted. There is very little that is lovely about us. But viewed as we are in Christ, clothed in His righteousness, we are not only lovable, we are in fact loved by God. So when we say, God loves you, we need to understand that He loves us, because we have been redeemed, renewed and washed in the blood of Jesus Christ.
Several months ago I gave a plug for the Power for Living program that was being advertised on TV and in newspapers. I suggested it was worth picking up--and took some heat for it. The reason I thought it was worth picking up was because of the focus upon Christ that was generally central in the things they sent out with the book and in the book.
My greatest criticism with the Power for Living program is in the way they advertise. Christ is absent from their commercials. They speak of having a personal relationship with God and it is obvious why they do it. The name, person, and stigma that is attached to speaking of Christ, depending on Christ, living for Christ, trusting in Christ, is real. People might not send out for the booklet and the materials that come with it were the ads focused upon Christ. Plainly put, Christ doesn't sell.
Christ is the stumbling block. Anyone who has tried to testify to Christ through their lives and actions knows this. Christ offends people. To speak of God is OK, it only ruffles the rare feathers of some strange birds, but speak of Christ and people begin to wonder. "Is he in a cult?" "Is she one of those, ya' know, 'radicals?'" But the issue is Christ. The great issue in life is do you rest in Christ alone, His atonement for sin, for all your hope and peace? His person and work are the stumbling blocks.
The centrality of Christ is missing in many branches of the Church where God is pleasantly spoken of. It is easy to understand why so many fall into the trap of God talk and avoid speaking about the things of Christ. But it is no excuse. To speak of God and avoid speaking of and focusing on Christ is like vacuuming your house with the vacuum unplugged. You may cover a lot of territory, and it might look like you are getting a lot done, but really you have accomplished nothing and wasted your time.
The stumbling block is Christ. The grand issue for us is twofold. Have we repented of our sin and do we trust in the salvation and grace offered to us in Christ? Isaiah 1:18 May the Lord make our hearts sure of these things today.
Feel free to drop me an email if you have questions about what has been written.
Soli Deo Gloria,