Loving the Lost (With the Gospel)

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What would you say about a church that lost its love for the lost?

Many churches today would claim to be all about loving people. If you were to ask what it means to express that love, you might be surprised how little you would hear about telling the good news to lost people!

If we’re going to show Biblical love for this world, we need to have a crystal clear understanding of two key truths:

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1. People are lost.

Jesus said it plainly, that he came to seek and to save the lost. Put another way, he said he came to call sinners to repentance. The reality the Bible so clearly teaches is that every sinner is lost–cut off from fellowship with God by sin, and heading for a lost eternity–the punishment prepared for everyone who lives as a rebel against their Creator. That’s lost!

It’s a little bit tragic then, when churches try to ‘love’ people by simply being nice to them, or by trying to meet their physical needs. If Christians actually understand God’s message of salvation from sin through Christ, it’s spectacularly unloving to merely meet people’s physical needs, and not warn them of their danger and tell them the gospel.

No one is saved by joining our group!

If people could be saved by liking Christians and wanting to be part of the church, then it would make sense for churches to concentrate on being as likeable as possible. But they can’t. To be saved, people need to realise they’re lost-rebels, and repent, believing in the gospel message. No one is saved by joining our group!

2. Lost people need the good news.

The greatest need for the people of the world today, is the same as the greatest need for the people of the world in Christ’s day. Poverty has always existed, but Jesus didn’t tell the church to go fix poverty. Sickness has always cursed the world, but Christ did not commission the church to “Go into all the world and build hospitals in every nation.”

Let’s be clear. The greatest need the world faces is its lost-ness, and the one, unchangeable commission given to the church (Part three of our threefold purpose for the church in this series) is to preach the gospel.

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Don’t get me wrong, when hearts are changed by the gospel, hospitals will be built. There is nothing wrong with wanting to build a hospital to bless people–in fact, it’s all good–it’s just not the purpose of the church. True, it may flow from the work of the church, but the mission of the church has always been to deal with the greatest need, and that’s the gospel. All the social change we could wish for is intrinsically linked to the transformation of individual selfish human hearts.

making poverty history is not the goal of the church, but when selfishness and laziness are history, poverty gives way to industry and generosity

Viewed this way, making poverty history is not the goal of the church, but when selfishness and laziness are history, poverty gives way to industry and generosity. Individuals transformed by the gospel will always want to relieve poverty and sickness – which is all good, but when churches allow social projects to displace the preaching of the gospel as their primary focus, the greatest need of mankind is left unmet.

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Thankfully one Day, poverty will indeed be history, but in the meantime the mission of the church is to rescue lost souls from an eternity of misery.

Let’s not miss our mission.

 

A tweet way to get forgiven

What does it take to get forgiveness from God for your sins?

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The Independent.co.uk article: One hell of a deal: Pope Francis offers reduced time in Purgatory for Catholics that follow him on Twitter

If the Pope and his ‘church’ is to be believed, you can now benefit from forgiveness via twitter – just by following the Pope doing his sacred stuff. Oh… and you have to ask for forgiveness, offer prayers, and attend mass for it to work.

Now you might think that sounds like you’d be getting off quite lightly, and you’re right… except that there’s a catch.

The forgiveness they are offering amounts to some days off Purgatory (which doesn’t exist according to the Bible) and whatever meagre forgiveness they do offer you, you’ll need to go back and get some more to cover the sins you do next week.

You might be forgiven for thinking that this sounded like a good marketing deal, but then, if you thought that, you’d have to follow the pope’s tweets, confess, pray, and attend mass some more.

You might also be forgiven for wondering if Jesus would have walked into the Vatican and turned over a few of their computer tables… since when you read the New Testament, you really don’t get the idea that Jesus was busy selling forgiveness! Instead, Jesus famously declared complete forgiveness of sins to be freely available to the very worst of sinners. His message was one which amazed and liberated poor sinners from the oppressive religious system of his day…

Check out this for the radical New Testament alternative to forgiveness via twitter: