Monday, December 26, 2005

The gift of salvation

An excellent email I received a while back and thought it prudent to post here-enjoy.

There was a certain Professor of Religion named Dr.
Christianson, a studious man who taught at a small
college in the Western United States. Dr. Christianson
taught the required survey course in Christianity at
this particular institution. Every student was
required to take this course his or her freshman year
regardless of his or her major. Although Dr.
Christianson tried hard to communicate the essence of
the gospel in his class, he found that most of his
students looked upon the course as nothing but
required drudgery.

Despite his best efforts, most students refused to
take Christianity seriously. This year, Dr.
Christianson had a special student named Steve. Steve
was only a freshman, but was studying with the intent
of going onto seminary for the ministry. Steve was
popular, he was well liked, and he was an imposing
physical specimen. He was now the starting center on
the school football team, and was the best student
in the professor's class.
> One day, Dr. Christianson asked Steve to stay
after class so he could talk with him. "How many
push-ups can you do?" Steve said, "I do about 200
every night." "200? That's pretty good, Steve," Dr.
Christianson said. "Do you think you could do 300?"
Steve replied, "I don't know... I've never done
300 at a time." "Do you think you could?" again asked
Dr. Christianson. "Well, I can try," said Steve.
"Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project
in mind and I need you to do about 300 push-ups in
sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need
you to tell me you can do it," said the professor.
Steve said, "Well... I think I can...yeah, I can
do it." Dr. Christianson said, "Good! I need you to
this on Friday. Let me explain what I have in mind."

> Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat
in the front of the room. When class started, the
professor pulled out a big box of donuts. No these
weren't the normal kinds of donuts, they were the
extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting
swirls. Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday, the
last class of the day, and they were going to get an
early start on the weekend with a party in Dr.
Christianson's class.

Dr. Christianson went to the first girl in the
first row and asked, "Cynthia, do you want to have
one of these donuts?" Cynthia said, "Yes."
Dr. Christianson then turned to Steve and asked,
"Steve, would you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can
have a donut?" "Sure." Steve jumped down from his
desk to do a quick ten. Then Steve again sat in his
desk. Dr. Christianson put a donut on Cynthia's desk.
Dr. Christianson then went to Joe, the next person,
and asked, "Joe, do you want a donut?" Joe said,
"Yes." Dr. Christianson asked, "Steve would you do ten
push-ups so Joe can have a donut?" Steve did ten
push-ups, Joe got a donut. And so it went, down the
first aisle, Steve did ten pushups for every person
before they got their donut. And down the second
aisle, till Dr. Christianson came to Scott. Scott was
on the basketball team, and in as good condition as
Steve. He was very popular and never lacking for
female companionship. When the professor asked, "Scott
do you want a donut?" Scott's reply was, "Well, can I
do my own pushups?" Dr. Christianson said, "No, Steve
has to do them." Then Scott said, "Well, I don't want
one then." Dr. Christianson shrugged and then turned
to Steve and asked, "Steve, would you do ten pushups
so Scott can have a donut he doesn't want?" With
perfect obedience Steve started to do ten pushups.
Scott said, "HEY! I said I didn't want one!" Dr.
Christianson said, "Look, this is my classroom, my
class, my desks, and these are my donuts. Just leave
it on the desk if you don't want it." And he put a
donut on Scott's desk.

Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a
little. He just stayed on the floor between sets
because it took too much effort to be getting up and
down. You could start to see a little perspiration
coming out around his brow. Dr. Christianson
started down the third row. Now the students were
beginning to get a little angry. Dr. Christianson
asked Jenny, "Jenny, do you want a donut?"
Sternly, Jenny said, "No." Then Dr. Christianson
asked Steve, "Steve, would you do ten more Push-ups so
Jenny can have a donut that she doesn't want?" Steve
did ten....Jenny got a donut. By now, a growing sense
of uneasiness filled the room. The students were
beginning to say "No" and there were all these uneaten
donuts on the desks. Steve also had to really put
forth a lot of extra effort to get these pushups done
for each donut. There began to be a small pool of
sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow
were beginning to get red because of the physical
effort involved. Dr. Christianson asked Robert, who
was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to watch
Steve do each push up to make sure he did the full ten
pushups in a set because he couldn't bear to watch all
of Steve's work for all of those uneaten donuts. He
sent Robert over to where Steve was so Robert could
count the set and watch Steve closely.
Dr. Christianson started down the fourth row.
During his class, however, some students from other
classes had wandered in and sat down on the steps
along the radiators that ran down the sides of the
room. When the professor realized this, he did a quick
count and saw that now there were 34 students in the

He started to worry if Steve would be able to
make it. Dr. Christianson went on to the next person
and the next and the next. Near the end of that row,
Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a
lot more time to complete each set. But Dr.
Christianson went on.
> A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer
student, came to the room and was about to come in
when all the students yelled in one voice, "NO! Don't
come in! Stay out!" Jason didn't know what was going
on. Steve picked up his head and said, "No, let him
come." Professor Christianson said, "You realize that
if Jason comes in you will have to do ten pushups for
him?" Steve said, "Yes, let him come in. Give him a
donut" Dr. Christianson said, "Okay, Steve, I'll let
you get Jason's out of the way right now. Jason, do
you want a donut?" Jason, new to the room hardly knew
what was going on. "Yes," he said, "give me a donut."

"Steve, will you do ten push-ups so that Jason can
have a donut?"
Steve did ten pushups very slowly and with great
effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat
down. Dr. Christianson finished the fourth row, then
started on those visitors seated by the heaters.
Steve's arms were now shaking with each push-up in a
struggle to lift himself against the force of
gravity. Sweat was profusely dropping off of his
face and, by this time, there was no sound except his
heavy breathing, there was not a dry eye in the room.

The very last two students in the room were two
young women, both cheerleaders, and very popular. Dr.
Christianson went to Linda, the second to last, and
asked, "Linda, do you want a doughnut?" Linda said,
very sadly, "No, thank you."
Professor Christianson quietly asked, "Steve, would
you do ten push-ups so that Linda can have a donut she
doesn't want?" Grunting from the effort, Steve did
ten very slow pushups for Linda. Then Dr. Christianson
turned to the last girl, Susan. "Susan, do you want a
donut?" Susan, with tears flowing down her face,
to cry. "Dr. Christianson, why can't I help him?"

Dr. Christianson, with tears of his own, said, "No,
Steve has to do it alone, I have given him this task
and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an
opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not.
When I decided to have a party this last day of class,
I looked at my grade book. Steve, here is the only
student with a perfect grade. Everyone else has
failed a test, skipped class, or offered me inferior
work. Steve told me that in football practice, when a
player messes up he must do push-ups. I told Steve
that none of you could come to my party unless he paid
the price by doing your push ups. He and I made a
deal for your sakes. Steve, would you do ten push-ups
so Susan can have a donut?" As Steve very slowly
finished his last pushup, with the understanding that
he had accomplished all that was required of him,
having done 350 pushups, his arms buckled beneath him
and he fell to the floor.
Dr. Christianson turned to the room and said.
"And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the
cross, plead to the Father, 'into thy hands I commend
my spirit.' With the understanding that He had done
everything that was required of Him, he yielded up His
life. And like some of those in this room, many of us
leave the gift on the desk, uneaten." Two students
helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat,
physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile.
"Well done good and faithful servant," said the
professor, adding "Not all sermons are preached in
words." Turning to his class the professor said, "My
wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend
all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given
to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior
Jesus Christ. He spared not only His Begotten Son, but
gave Him up for us all for the whole Church, now and
forever. Whether or not we choose to accept His gift
to us, the price has been paid. Wouldn't you be
foolish and ungrateful to leave it laying on the

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Contemporary Christian Music

I was just sitting here and thinking about the problems I have with the contemporary church. I see a growing trend in Baptist,especially Southern Baptist churches, towards contemporary worship and this is very troubling to me. Yesterday I was searching websites of different Baptist churches in Columbia,SC and all but one have some form of contemporary worship. The inventors and advocates of this new type of worship seem to have forgotten or were just plain ignorant of the regulative principle of worship, which our forebears believed in wholeheartedly. In the New Testament there is laid out for us what is to be included in our worship-prayers/praises, singing of psalms, hymns,and spiritual songs, and MOST importantly the preaching of the Word. We do not have license to add to these things in order to elicit a response from certain groups of people or to try and get more people into the church.

I believe most Christians today have a distorted or incorrect view of what worship really is. Worship is not performing for the Lord or whipping up the congregation's emotions by playing rock music with a Christian label on it. Nothing nauseates me more than to see or hear the phrases "worship team" or "worship experience" because everything in those phrases is geared towards me and not God. I often hear the question asked "How will we reach our youth or the unchurched unless we offer another style of worship?" Therein lies the problem-we are not to alter our order of worship to meet specific or felt needs of any group and certainly not to cater to the unregenerated. We expect our youth to sit in classrooms for 8 hours a day and gain intellectual knowledge but how dare we ask them to sit through a worship service without entertaining them. So, by the time they are adults they will be theologically and biblically illiterate unless the dialogue includes drama or cute little ditties. What rubbish! The simple answer is that the Holy Spirit calls people to a church, youth included, and convicts us of sin, not the vain imaginations, inventions and practices of men.

We are treading on very thin ice when we reject the order of worship handed down to us by centuries of Christians in favor of the latest trends. I have never been more disgusted as when I saw the promotion of 2 styles of worship as a matter of taste, as in what blend do you prefer.There it is again, what I prefer with no thought as to what God prefers.Have the advocates and promoters of contemporary worship ever stopped to think that if they are right about worship just being man's preference, then for 2,000 years the true church has had it all wrong. Another question I have is "If this new style of worship is OF God, then why has it split so many congregations?" Those of us that hold to traditional worship are often labelled as petty, legalists, pharisees, or just plain mean-spirited. We are asked how we can judge how someone else worships.Well, contrary to popular belief, we are to judge between right and wrong according to the Bible. Paul tells us that some day we will judge angels and admonished the church he was writing to because they could not judge simple things. I hear often that "God is doing a new thing and bringing people into the church." No, man is doing an old thing and dressing up or watering down the gospel to try and make the church a "relevant and safe place." The church and the gospel we are to proclaim to a lost world is relevant all by itself and the only way to be safe is to have your sins covered by the blood of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

The Reformers cleansed the church of these popish practices and beliefs about worship beginning in the 16th century and now we are almost all the way down the slippery slope to anarchy in worship. There are great principles at stake here that have been reduced to "preference." The worship of our most Holy God and Saviour has no more to do with our preference than does our salvation. I am strongly convicted that the Lord is not pleased with churches that reject His way of doing things in favor of what we are currently doing and then attempting to make Him responsible for it. The whole contemporary worship movement is a subculture within not only the Baptist church but other denominations as well.

Before I close let me relay this story to you. Recently, the pastor of a local Baptist Church spoke to a group of Presbyterians at their Wednesday luncheon over at First Presbyterian Church. Before he finished his message he admonished them(Presbyterians)for faithfully adhering to traditional worship and rejecting contemporary worship. I was embarrassed at his unscriptural admonishment and duly apologized to my Presbyterian friends for the lack of spiritual discernment in the Baptist church. As a pastor, he should know better, and every other pastor that has allowed contemporary worship into their church. I close by asking the question "What would our spiritual ancestors think if they were to visit our churches today?" Jeremiah 6:16 says "Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls." The last part of this verse is the modern church's response to this command from the Lord-"But they said, We will not walk therein." How sad!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Chronicles of Narnia

The church I attend is having a family night this evening at a local theater, promoting the Chronicles of Narnia. Recently, I visited a Christian bookstore and was overwhelmed by the promotions for this movie, very similar to a recent visit to Barnes & Noble. In my mind that is what is so wrong with Christian bookstores today. They cater to the same public as the secular bookstores, using the same marketing strategies. There is no depth to most of the books on display, unless you can find a classics section. The church of the 21st century has a similar problem, no depth and all show.

Back to Narnia. A couple of years ago churches were tripping over themselves to promote the Purpose Driven Life and 40 day spiritual journeys. I was shocked that Bible believing
Christians could be so shallow and gullible. Why did we feel the need to go on a 40 day journey with some pastor in California to discover our purpose in life? Last year the rave was all about The Passion. I had to go and check it out for myself. Even though the movie did cause me to focus on the suffering of our Lord, I would not recommend it to anybody. Once again, churches were battling each other to rent out theater space. They even had post-movie counselors to help people "make decisions for Christ." And now we come to the latest fad of the church, a movie which I hope to see. In Revelation 17 we see a religious system described as a whore, which I believe represents the Roman Catholic Church. However, I believe the modern contemporary church is a whore to the world, falling all over itself to make the Gospel trendy, and unoffensive to those lost in darkness. They will use whatever gimmick seems to work, be it a rock band, exciting children's programs, movies, anything to seem relevant. What they do not realize is that have made themselves irrelevant, not realizing that they are supposed to be stewards of the mystery of the Gospel.

My people perish for lack of knowledge says the prophet Hosea. We are living in a time of famine of the Word of God as it relates to knowledge and doctrine. We as the church are the "called out ones" and let us act accordingly, not fearing the reproach of the world. Let each of us bear our cross daily for our Lord and Saviour and be beacons of Light for His Kingdom. Let us expose false teaching and methods in the church today and point her back to the old paths once again.

Soli Deo Gloria

Monday, December 12, 2005

Pilgrim's Progress

My bible study group is beginning a study on the Pilgrim's Progress. The first time I read the book I could not put it down. I flew through it and am glad to be slowing down and picking Bunyan's brain. How sad it is that Christians today have never even heard of this book. It sits in the classics section of most Christian bookstores, gathering dust while the self-help books with a Christian label fly off of the shelves. What legacy are we leaving our children?Do most Christian's today have any idea about the journey Bunyan describes? Would they resolve to travel with Christian, no matter the consequences? Could it be that they have been so spoon-fed with the "Jesus loves you no matter what" sermons that they cannot relate to Bunyan? Books such as the Purpose Driven Life and Joel Osteen's latest book only compound the problem. Let us shun the easy believism and sugar coated Christianity portrayed in churchianity today for the Old Paths. Out with Rick Warren and Joel Osteen, give me Bunyan, and Whitefield and Spurgeon.